Danny Milton’s Cardiff Met side just managed to maintain their unbeaten start to the tournament, but had to rely heavily on the boot of outside half Bradley Roderick-Evans. He kicked 22 points as he punished the visitors for their stream of errors and sent them packing with their first loss of the campaign.
It took almost an hour before the home side were able to edge in front in a contest that attracted a big crowd to the No 1 field at Cyncoed and 4,000 viewers on-line. Loughborough, coached by former Cardiff met outside half Scott Sneddon, drew first blood with a third minute try from Douglas Bridge which their Irish outside half Reece Malone improved.
The sides were level 13-13 at the break after Malone added two penalties and loose head prop Rhys Barrett burrowed his way over for a try that Roderick-Evans converted. The Met outside half also added a couple of penalties.
A try apiece in the opening seven minutes of the second half kept the game tight. Teddy Leatherbarrow scored for Loughborough and No 8 Matt Marley replied for Met. The respective No 10s added the extras.
Malone’s boot then pushed Loughborough into a 23-20 lead before Roderick-Evans kept his cool to slot four successive penalties to take the home side out to a 32-23 lead with four minutes left to play.
That was enough time for Loughborough to hit back with their third try and Malone’s conversion gave them a final shot at victory. They worked their way into the home 22, but conceded a penalty five metres out to allow a much relieved Met to kick the ball out and set the celebrations in motion.
“We didn’t know who was going to win until that last play of the game. I didn’t think it could get any more dramatic than last week against Cardiff Uni, but it was,” admitted acting skipper Charles Rylands.
“It was a proper performance in both attack and defence, although we don’t want to be relying on kicking penalties to win matches. We’ll also have to look at why we conceded 10 penalties and work harder on our discipline.”
Director of rugby Milton was full of praise for his side’s battling performance, but is hoping to see more from his side as an attacking threat as the tournament progresses. They host an improving Hartpury side next week in another big fixture.
“We were a little bit fortunate and got out of gaol at times and I’m sure Loughborough will be unhappy at the number of penalties they conceded,” said Milton.
“Our attack shape isn’t good enough at the moment and we need to work on that aspect of our game. We have to become more of a threat with ball in hand if we are to threaten to top sides.”
Cardiff University head to Loughborough next week and will head to the Midlands licking their wounds after a 37-8 defeat at Exeter. The home side included new Wales squad lock Christian Tshiunza in their second row alongside fellow Wales U20 cap Dafydd Jenkins and were too powerful in the end.
They easily picked up their second Welsh scalp after comfortably beat Swansea University at St Helen’s in their opening game. Cardiff Rugby academy wing Jake Thomas grabbed a consolation try in the 74th minute on his birthday for the visitors to add to an earlier penalty, while Exeter plundered six tries.
Swansea fell to a third successive defeat as they were beaten 38-19 by reigning champions Durham at St Helen’s. The visitors did most of the damage in a dominant first-half that saw they race into a 31-5 lead.
They only managed to add one further score after the break, while Swansea picked up two from centre David Armstrong and scrum half Dafydd Land.