by Ben Lovell-Smith at Cardiff Arms Park
Despite a fantastic performance from Cardiff, top of the table Durham defeated Cardiff 5-26 at the Arms Park to take all the points back to the North of England.
Having been physically dominated in horrendous weather for the past couple of months, the opportunity to play on the artificial turf at the Arms Park provided the perfect platform for Cardiff to get their season started again. They started well, matching the physicality of the Durham side, but ultimately penalties began to suffocate them, forcing Cardiff deep into their own half.
Inevitably Durham’s superior weight forced them over after a strong defensive surge from Cardiff, to put the team in purple 7-0 in front. However, the pace of the surface reaped rewards for Cardiff, providing the field position for George Thomas to continue his prolific try-scoring record.
A training ground backs move from an attacking scrum untied the Durham defence as Charlie Dyde took the ball to the line and lifted it out back to Elliot Hayden and, after a fumble, the ball made its way wide to Thomas who dived over right on the touchline. Ed Dunford could not convert, leaving Cardiff still trailing.
The rest of the half was entertaining, Cardiff’s backs showed incredible subtlety and the Durham maul was one for the purists. Just before the break Cardiff put immense pressure on the Durham line, but were unable to capitalise. There was reason to be optimistic at the break.
Perhaps half time came too soon for Cardiff, as Durham began to open up in the second half, moving the ball away from the breakdown and using their backs. Eventually, Cardiff were camped on their own line, and after a number of phases, they could do nothing to stop the livewire full back Nick Jonas darting through the defence and crossing the line from an attacking scrum.
Durham were now showing why they are top of the table, as they dominated territory and possession. In what felt like no time, they had scored twice more. Not only pulling away from Cardiff but also earning the try bonus point.
Cardiff came back into the game in the last quarter. When Huw Roberts earned good field position, Cardiff received a penalty and kicked for the corner.
A number of surges for line provided no reward, summing up Cardiff’s night as the final whistle blew for full time at 5-26 to Durham.