By Jack Vavasour
Cardiff Ladies’ kicked off proceedings in the Principality as underdogs against a very strong Swansea side. Despite having a smaller crowd than their male counterparts, their game was far more enthralling.
Cardiff started poorly, losing a line out and then conceding a scrum. Off the scrum full-back Booth made a wonderful try saving tackle to stop Cardiff from conceding the first points. Fly-half Lewis made a few good breaks in the opening minutes and looked dangerous in parts. The real danger though was Swansea, who dominated the opening ten minutes. Cardiff defended desperately and managed to keep out the superior outfit.
On the 14 minute mark, following a tap penalty by Molly Danks, Jenkins powered her way over the line to open the scoring. Swansea appeared shell shocked as they hadn’t expected such a determined response from Cardiff after they had dominated the early stages. Edwards failed to get the conversion.
Swansea were right back on the attack and Lewis was forced to bring down Swansea’s winger 5 metres out. Swansea’s fullback, who looked more dangerous as the match continued, collected a poor Cardiff clearance kick and counter-attacked immediately.
She made some good metres, darting in and out of players and avoiding tackles very successfully. Play then continued and Swansea’s outside centre put on a good pass to send their 15 over in the corner.
Swansea then received a yellow card for their number 8.
Compton was then forced to hold Swansea up over the line in yet another desperate defensive showing from Cardiff. Sadly this defence didn’t last and Swansea’s second-row crossed to give her side the lead.
Cardiff replied almost instantly as Podpadec somehow bulldozed her way over for a try to level the scores. However, Podpadec’s joy didn’t last long as she attempted to end the half by throwing the ball into touch. This resulted in a penalty and Swansea tapped it and scored from the penalty to go into half time five points ahead.
Cardiff came out raring to go in the second half still with everything still to play for. The home advantage was beginning to pay off as the stadium gradually gained more supporters and the seats filled up.
Cardiff scored with only three minutes on the clock in the second-half. Edwards ran in a simple try under the posts, making the game look easy. This drew Cardiff level and made the game extremely exciting.
Swansea then received their second yellow of the game, with Cardiff only five metres out. Cardiff knocked the ball on at the line out then continued their scrum dominance and won the ball back. After some dangerous play, and some white line fever, Thomas managed to find a gap a crossed to give Cardiff the lead.
Swansea, again, hit back immediately to draw level following yet another dangerous run from their full-back. Eventually their outside centre bundled over with about five players trying to tackle her at once.
Cardiff then took a 27-20 lead as Podpadec crossed for her second of the game by picking up at the back of a ruck and sprinting for the line untouched. Edwards got the conversion, the first and final successful kick of the game. Cardiff were now in a solid position to close out the game.
With just five minutes left Swansea’s winger dotted down in the corner following impressive sustained attack from Swansea.
In the 79th minute Swansea dropped the ball over the line, as Cardiff once again gave everything they had on the defensive end.
All Cardiff had to do was win the resultant scrum and kick the ball out, sadly they lost the scrum and Swansea’s substitute scrum-half pounced on the loose ball and scored the winning try. Making the final score 27-30.
Cardiff will be proud of their performance as they challenged the favourites and so nearly came away with the victory. They will, however, be disappointed that their defence and scrum cost them the game in the dying moments, as this had been so strong throughout and they had been reluctant to bring fresh legs on.
Cardiff will look to continue to improve for next season, sadly 2019 just wasn’t their year.