By James Lloyd
Cardiff University men’s rugby first team suffered a tight, 10-8 loss away at arch rivals Swansea last Wednesday in front of a raucous St Helen’s crowd. Julian Mogg missed a last minute conversion that would have tied the game for Cardiff after Harry Griffiths crashed over in the corner late on.
Mogg scored a penalty in the first-half for Cardiff’s other score with Craig Hudd scoring Swansea’s try on the stroke of half-time. Handling errors proved costly for Cardiff who spent the majority of the second-half camped in Swansea territory.
It was an error-strewn opening half from both sides as sloppy mistakes cost both from making any headway.
And after a cagey opening quarter, it was Swansea who had the first major opportunity but fly-half Mitchell Jones skewed a penalty wide after Cardiff were penalised at the breakdown.
Mogg made his opposite number pay as the Cardiff man slotted a simple three points in front of the posts for the games’ opening points.
More errors made for a patchy and cagey period with both sides very much locking horns. But Swansea came back just before the interval and snatched the lead. A catch and drive from the lineout led to lock Hudd going over in the corner with Jones making amends for his earlier miss with the conversion from out wide.
After the break Mogg had the first chance at goal but his booming 45 metre effort sailed narrowly wide. Jones followed suit as he missed another opportunity from a slight angle but made up for it just two minutes later with a dink in front of the posts.
Despite a hefty and dominant scrum, handling errors continued to haunt Cardiff’s progress as Swansea started to gain some ground in the territory game.
Midway through the half, Griffiths’ surging break in the midfield sent Cardiff knocking on the door, but a combination of stray passes and a solid Swansea wall halted their progress.
And minutes later, Cardiff maintained their stride in Swansea’s half after another powerful scrum, but were left with no reward as the home side cleared their lines. It was becoming that sort of half for the frustrated red men.
In the 77th minute Cardiff finally found a gap in the tiring Swansea defence to set up a tense finale. Mogg danced his way through before the ball found Griffiths who scored in the corner. But Mogg missed the resulting conversion from a tricky angle that would have tied the scores.
And there was nearly more drama as Mogg found more space, only to be stopped by an outstretched arm. Swansea again were able to clear and held on for the victory.
Boss Alun-Wyn Davies admitted their last-gasp defeat was tough to take.
A big crowd turned out to see Cardiff fall agonisingly short of snatching a late draw – and Davies conceded he was left frustrated that they failed to stick to their game plan in perhaps their biggest fixture of the season so far.
But he was keen to focus on the positives as they aim to bounce back against University of South Wales in another local derby on Wednesday.
Davies said: “Yeah it was (tough to take). It was a fantastic day really, it was such a good crowd, especially for a BUCS game. But it is disappointing, we’ve got a few annoyed boys in there but I take nothing away from Swansea, they defended very well, we just weren’t clinical today.
“Territory wise we went away from our script and we paid for it first-half where we had a couple of opportunities to score and they scored just before half-time and we had to chase the game.
“We are trying to learn to win, teams strive for years to unlock the golden goose as they say. But there are positives, defensively we were superb, some of the collisions our guys were making were extremely dominant. I think our tackle completion last week was around 96% and it was similar today.
“I think the few errors that we made told a story. I’m telling the guys that everything we do has an effect. In a positive way we kept the ball, and we’re learning as a group. We did go away off script a little bit tonight. It’s easily fixed, and we’ll work on being clinical ready for the next game.
“The ruck was a little bit of a lottery. I’m not one to point fingers but Swansea were very cute in the breakdown.
“We have USW away in our next game. It’s another derby and they beat Swansea last week, so it makes it interesting. I know their coach, Ben is working very hard up there to try and get certain things in place. It was a great win for them last week, so I will be concentrating all on us next week and concentrating on our game plan and execution and if we do that then we will have a successful week.
Swansea: Pearce 6; Fieldwick 8, George 6, Gully 5, Joyce 6, Jones 5, Dix 5; Cinnamond 6, Melotti 5, Guy 7, Hayward 6, Hudd 6, Jones 6, Holder 6, Williams (c) 6
Cardiff: Williams 6; Lang 6, Griffiths 6, Parks 6, Mears 6, Mogg 7, Brooks 7; Starks 7, Haines 6, Rees 6, Egan 6, McGrath 7, Viggers 6, Hughes 6, Williams (c) 7
Man of the Match:
Sam Fieldwick (Swansea)