By Jamie Smith
Cardiff Freshers’ rugby team twice came from behind to seal their first ever Varsity victory over Swansea, achieving a convincing 31-25 success at Sketty Lane.
Five tries, three of which arrived in the second half, along with two conversions, proved enough for the visitors to claim the Varsity point and make amends for the 23-18 defeat suffered by Cardiff in last year’s event.
Things did not start too well for the visitors, though, with Swansea building on early pressure to score the opening try inside the first 10 minutes in front of a packed crowd. Unfortunately for the Swans, the resultant conversion fell well wide of the left post and that set the precedent for a low standard of kicking throughout the game.
Cardiff soon had an opportunity to quickly reduce the arrears from a penalty but the kick landed just short to the right. However, it was not long before they equalled the scores with a try of their own, racing through the posts to bring it back to 5-5. And, where Swansea had previously failed, kicker Fin Robjohn was able to convert the try with a routine kick from directly in front of the woodwork-taking a lead of two points.
Swansea finally succeeded with a kick, converting a penalty and regaining their advantage- only for Cardiff to secure their second try of the game prior to half-time. That swung the momentum in Cardiff’s favour ahead of the second half, despite not managing to score the conversion.
With a 12-8 scoreline, Cardiff never really looked back- leading the game throughout the second half until the final whistle.
Immediately after the half-time break, they extended their advantage with another supreme try after Aaron Hughes penetrated the sieve-like Swansea defence with such ease it left the hosts as red-faced as those unfortunate Varsity spectators who had succumbed to the searing heat of the sun- including myself.
Sadly, the game was marred when a Swansea player instigated a confrontation with one of Cardiff’s men before the conversion was about to be taken. The incident resulted in both men being dismissed but, despite the unexpectedly long wait, Robjohn kept his nerve to place the ball between the sticks.
The Swans kept Cardiff on their toes with a converted try shortly after to make it 19-15. But, as had been the case for the duration of the game, each time Swansea put points on the board, Cardiff had tricks up their sleeve to suppress any sort of hope their opponents gained.
In this instance, Cardiff delivered the sucker punch. Two more tries- the first converted, the latter not-either side of a successfully-taken Swansea penalty made it 31-18 and virtually guaranteed the victory.
Credit to the Green and White army, Swansea continued fighting until the very end and were able to decrease the deficit once more with a late burst from their own half to the tryline. As the Swans successfully converted from the left, the final whistle blew to confirm a 31-25 win for Cardiff.
Cue ecstatic celebrations from players and coaches, as well as the conventional pitch invasion from the persistently noisy, if sometimes overly-rowdy, Cardiff supporters.