Bargoed very nearly pulled off a remarkable victory coming back from a 14-0 deficit after just eight minutes, only to see the win dramatically taken away from them with only two minutes left on the clock.
It looked like it was going to be a long afternoon for the Bulls and their supporters when Cardiff Blues full back Dan Fish crossed after three minutes converted by Gareth Thompson and five minutes later referee Craig Evans deemed that Bargoed stopped a driving maul illegally close to the line and awarded a penalty try, 0-14 after eight minutes. Add to that a brilliant try saving intervention by Bulls wing Ashley Norton and the home side were on the rack.
However, Bargoed are nothing if not resilient this season and slowly the forwards began to impose themselves with a very strong set piece aided by solid midfield defence. And it was the scrum that provided the platform for Bargoed’s first try. The forwards drove and Cardiff were penalised. Ian Smerdon kicked to the corner and from the line out number eight Ieuan Jones and hooker Leigh Meades combined. The referee had signalled advantage for another penalty and Smerdon put in a speculative kick to the wing which came to nothing. A scrum was called from the penalty and the Cardiff eight were again under pressure, scrum half Hallet broke and switched back inside where Ieuan Jones was the grateful recipient and he crossed under the posts. Mathew Lewis added the conversion and Bargoed had steadied the ship as the game entered the second quarter with the score 7-14.
Bargoed’s resurgence continued with a Lewis penalty on 31 minutes and the try of the game gave the home side the lead with just three minutes of the half left. Ashley Norton had left his wing to hit the midfield with Bargoed taking possession from a line out just inside the Cardiff half. The big winger punched a hole through the midfield and found centre Jordan Howells on his shoulder. Howells danced left and right turning three Cardiff defenders inside out and crossed for a superb score. Lewis added the conversion and the home side took a deserved lead into the half time break at 17-14.
The second half turned out to be a hugely physical contest with Cardiff trying but failing to break a resolute Bargoed defence. The home side had an opportunity to extend their lead but the penalty kick drifted wide, otherwise there were few scoring opportunities for either side and a notable feature was the absence of any kickable penalties for Cardiff which says a great deal for Bargoed’s much improved discipline.
Both sides used the bench but it made little difference to the second half stalemate. However with just two minutes left, a breakdown in communication in midfield saw a Bargoed wrap around move go awry. Cardiff pounced, worked their way upfield and quick hands put former Leicester Tigers centre Jack Roberts over from short range with replacement Ben Thomas converting.
There was still time for Bargoed to mount an attack but a lack of composure saw the ball hacked upfield from the Cardiff twenty two and that was it – another narrow home defeat with the Bulls having to settle for a losing bonus point.