Carmarthen's Rhodri Wells whips the ball away at a wet Cardiff Arms Park
Carmarthen Quins served notice of their Principality Premiership title intentions, dispatching Cardiff 22-7 at the Arms Park to remain top of the table.
The hugely impressive performance, secured on the back of two quick-fire second half tries, saw the Carmarthen Park side make it seven wins from seven so far this season.
It was a victory Quins most certainly deserved, building an 8-0 first half advantage with a try from Chris Banfield and three points from fly half Craig Evans, who was named man of the match for his superb control of a game played out in difficult conditions.
Quins may have had the wind in their favour during the first 40, but when the weather settled down after half time, they just pulled further clear. Centres Rhys Williams and Jason Harries both crossed at the start of the second period, their physicality too much for Cardiff's defence on a cold night in the nation's capital.
Evans converted both scores and although Cardiff's Luke Hamilton scored a consolation almost on the final whistle, there was only ever going to be one winner.
After kick off was delayed by half an hour due to an accident on the M4, the match began in driving rain and to the sights and sounds of Cardiff's firework display in the background. It was certainly an unusual start but once the players became accustomed to the unusual atmosphere, it was the table-topping Quins who started the better.
Evans saw a penalty effort from well inside his own half fall short but he made amends moments later, putting a far simpler effort between the posts. It gave the Quins, who boasted a 100 per cent record going into the game, a deserved 3-0 lead as they played with the conditions in their favour throughout the first 40 minutes.
Despite their climatic advantage, Louie Tonkin's Quins failed to add to their early lead as Cardiff grew into the game. James Loxton was tackled into touch following a break from Cardiff's Shaun Powell while fly half Ceiron Thomas nearly created a score for centre Luke Ford with a delicate chip and chase. At the other end, Lee Williams galloped in under the posts but the experienced Wales Sevens campaigner saw his score rightly ruled out by Nigel Owens for a forward pass.
It all meant that with half an hour played, the two teams were separated by just three points. All that changed soon enough though. Evans put a second penalty effort wide before Banfield ensured the Quins boasted a decent enough half time cushion.
When the try came, it was created by James Davies, the flanker feeding Wales Students winger Banfield, who had too much pace for the covering Cardiff defence. Evans missed the conversion but the Quins still turned around 8-0 ahead.
If the west Wales side had been a touch disappointed not to have scored more first half points, they soon made up for it with two quick scores at the start of the second half.
The first saw Evans find Williams with a superb inside ball, the Quins centre given an easy run to the line with no Cardiff tackler in sight. Banfield then knocked on with the line gaping before Harries showed his power, driving through a number of defenders to cross under the posts. Evans added both sets of extras and with the visitors 22-0 up, that was pretty much that.
Cardiff refused to give up, full back Joe Griffin going close with a chip and chase but their nightmare second half was only compounded when fly half Thomas was forced off with a shoulder injury.
Both sides shuffled their sides and Cardiff did get a late consolation from Hamilton, converted by Thomas' replacement Jack Maynard, but it was the Quins who deserved to win.
This week on the Principality Premiership Podcast, WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie talks to Carmarthen Quins head coach Louie Tonkin who is aiming to close the gap on leading duo, Pontypridd and Ebbw Vale, with victory against Bridgend tomorrow.
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