By Ben Lovell-Smith at St Helens Rugby and Cricket Ground
The first South Wales derby since Varsity 2019 fell the way of Swansea in a hard fought 24-10 win on Wednesday evening.
Where a confident and revitalised Swansea side defeated Cardiff at a wet and windswept St Helens in the first of a number of derby matches for Cardiff in 2019/20. Key players were back in action for Cardiff, including Captain Cary Davies and talisman Charlie Dyde, but they could not turn the tide on Cardiff’s poor form for what was a momentous win for newly promoted Swansea.
The game started perfectly for Cardiff as they earned an early penalty. Bravely they opted to kick for the corner, a decision which paid off as the referee awarded a penalty try from the resultant driving maul, putting Cardiff 7-0 up.
Cardiff dominated the proceeding play and created good field position, looking to extend their lead. The Swansea defence remained defiant in front of a packed house of home fans.
Having defended up until this point, Swansea managed to get some possession from an intercept. Cardiff immediately conceded a penalty, which the Swansea fly-half Phil Jones duly converted.
Compounding their errors, Cardiff allowed Swansea to delve deep into their half and couldn’t escape, despite digging their heels in. Openside Aaron Hughes received a yellow for collapsing the maul. From the following play, Swansea squeezed over under the posts, lifting the crowd and giving the side confidence after a nervy start in the derby.
The two sides exchanged penalties, leaving the scoreline 13-10 at the break and completing a very two-sided half.
Swansea started the second half with the same intent, playing some scintillating rugby. Finally, they capitalised on their dominance as Max Nagy broke the line and handed off the defenders to score an outstanding try.
The game had gotten away from Cardiff by this point, they were two scores down and could not put together any of the possession that had served them well at the beginning of the match. Continuous indiscipline put Cardiff down to 14 men again for a period and meant Swansea could keep the scoreboard ticking, putting them into a 24-10 lead.
There were scenes of jubilation at the final whistle as Swansea finally defeated their arch-rivals. A brilliant victory for Swansea, buoyed by their home fans, they will not get the same reception when they come to Cardiff in round 14. Cardiff can take some positives from the game, particularly from that early period of dominance. The forward pack also looked far more assured with Cary Davies, Freddie Barnes and Aaron Hughes all back in the starting lineup.
Cardiff will look to kick start their season again next week as they host Bath at Llanrumney.