By: Paul Hopkins
A late Ryan Griffiths try helped Swansea dent Cardiff’s Premiership title hopes with a 20-17 victory at St Helen’s.
The visitors started well and full back Ioan Davies spotted a gap in the Swansea defence and raced 20 metres upfield, but failed to throw a critical pass. The Blue and Blacks regrouped, but prop Peter Lloyd spilled a pass forward.
Scrum half Chris Morgans intercepted a high pass to give the home side a first opportunity to attack the Cardiff defence, but a poor chip ahead by fly half Steffen Williams ended the move.
The home side almost took the lead when a powerful run by number eight Charlie Davies set up a devastating attack, but the pacey full back Josh Thomas took too long to find Griffiths and Cardiff were given a reprieve.
Winger Max Llewellyn made a break and found prop Thomas Davies in support as the visitors went through over 20 phases. The Swansea defence stood firm though and flanker Sam Pailor was unable to get a scoring pass out to winger Joe Gatt.
A powerful rolling maul by the Swansea pack forced the visitors’ to enter from offside. Steffen Williams chipped to the corner and lock Matt Dodd rose to collect the lineout, but Steffen Williams’ crossfield kick beat the chasing Griffiths into touch.
It took the Blue and Blacks 39 minutes to get the first points of the match through a Gareth Thompson penalty following a high tackle.
Fly half Thompson looked to attack from deep, but ran into a huge James Ratti hit, forcing a penalty. Steffen Williams tied the scores with a successful kick at goal.
Half-time:- Swansea 3 Cardiff 3
The visitors retook the lead a couple of minutes into the second half when centre Will Rees Hole cut through the Whites’ defence to score a superb solo effort. Thompson converted.
Swansea hit back straight away when Steffen Williams raced through but was tackled a metre short of the line, before flanker Duane Eager squeezed over to score. Steffen Williams missed the conversion.
Steffen Williams turned down a three pointer to chip to the corner from a penalty, but the home side were unable to capitalise thanks to a knock on. However, a powerful Whites scrum forced a penalty and Williams again chipped to the corner. A third penalty resulted in lock James Down taking a ten minute spell on the sidelines.
Swansea went into the lead for the first time when the pack kept ball tight, before a switch to the backline saw centre Callum Carson feed Thomas for a try.
Cardiff were straight back on the attack and replacement full back Edd Howley sprinted forward, before a fortunate break saw Rees-Hole collect a loose ball to grab his second try. Replacement fly half Steffan Jones converted.
The match took a further turn when Morgans chipped into the dead ball line for Griffiths to score. Steffen Williams missed the conversion.
In the dying minutes Cardiff were awarded a penalty, which Jones kicked to the corner, but the Swansea pack held up the maul to regain possession. Shortly after it was full time and the home faithful were able to celebrate a hard fought victory.
Full-time:- Swansea 20 Cardiff 17
Tries:- Duane Eager (51), Josh Thomas (65), Ryan Griffiths (75)
Cons:- Steffen Williams (66)
Pens:- Steffen Williams (40+5)
Tries:- Will Rees Hole (43, 69)
Cons:- Gareth Thompson (44), Steffan Jones (70)
Pens:- Gareth Thompson (40)
Yellow cards:- James Down (61)
Venue:- St Helen’s, Swansea
Weather:- Sunny, 10C
Man of the match:- James Ratti
15 Josh Thomas
14 Ryan Griffiths
13 R Rhys Williams
12 Callum Carson
11 Andrew Claypole (rep: Mike Evans 79)
10 Steffen Williams
9 Chris Morgans
1 Tom Sloane (rep: Rhys Davies 68-90+10)
2 Dewi Lake (rep: Ifan Phillips 66)
3 Greg Cunniffe (rep: Alex Jeffries 52)
4 James Ratti
5 Matt Dodd (rep: Sam Kiley 68)
6 Duane Eager © (rep: Jon Fox 56)
7 Callum Bowden
8 Charlie Davies
16 Ifan Phillips
17 Rhys Davies
18 Alex Jeffries
19 Sam Kiley
20 Jon Fox
21 Tom Ham
22 Jedd Evans
23 Mike Evans
15 Ioan Davies (rep: Edd Howley 66)
14 Max Llewellyn
13 Ben Thomas
12 Will Rees-Hole
11 Joe Gatt
10 Gareth Thompson (rep: Steffan Jones 66)
9 Martin Roberts
1 Thomas Davies (rep: Kieron Brown 57)
2 Joey Tomlinson © (rep: Ian Jenkins 47)
3 Peter Lloyd (rep: Will Davies King 57)
4 Kieran Martin
5 James Down
6 Sam Pailor
7 Zach O’Driscoll (rep: James Murphy 52)
8 Tom Daley
16 Ian Jenkins
17 Kieron Brown
18 Will Davies King
19 James Murphy
20 Fraser Young
21 Scott Gibson
22 Steffan Jones
23 Edd Howley