Ahead of Friday's #NRL game between Penrith Panthers and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, writer Rob C...
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TOTAL RL.COM NATIONAL RUGBY LEAGUE CONFERENCE SHIELD FINAL
CARDIFF DEMONS v THORNE MOOR MARAUDERS
SUNDAY 5TH SEPTEMBER ? ST.ALBANS RLFC. KICK-OFF 2.30PM
Cardiff Demons are expected to field a full-strength side for next Sunday's Total Rl.com Rugby League Conference Shield Final against Thorne Moor Marauders (kick-off 2.30pm). The line-up for the match at St Albans' brand new state of the art ground will be announced following the team's final training session on Wednesday evening.
Cardiff, the only Welsh side left in the competition, have found their form at the right end of the season with five wins on the trot going into this final starting with a crucial 48-30 win over Valley Cougars, described by the club at the time as the most important game in their history. Had the Demons lost, they would have finished bottom on the Welsh Conference and would have faced a tough trip to Newport in the Welsh Shield semi-finals.
But a win it was and Cardiff faced a home tie against Swansea Valley Miners. Gareth Jones and Andrew Bradshaw both scored a brace of tries as the Demons eased to a 54-22 victory setting them up with a Welsh Final meeting with Newport Titans at Aberavon.
Newport were strong favourites for this game having beaten Cardiff 52-10 and 66-30 in the regular season with strong second half performances and with the Titans 23-12 up at the break, the strong Demons support must have been fearing more of the same.
However Cardiff fought back and the second half turned into a classic with the lead changing four times in the that second period, the final time being in the 79th minute when Cardiff?s top scorer Gareth Jones went over and secured the game and the Welsh Shield.
It was back to Taff?s Well RFC for the Demons for their national quarter-final match against Telford Raiders. A 250-strong crowd, Cardiff?s second biggest of the season, were in attendance as the home side never looked like losing. 10-0 up in as many minutes, Cardiff cruised to a 46-6 win.
Despite being on the losing side, Telford coach Dave Berry commented, ?Their [Cardiff?s] level of intensity on the pitch was greater than any club we had played before, backed up by not inconsiderable skill. It took us 30 minutes to adjust and by then the match was over. Great opportunity and experience for my young side.
?I was also very impressed by their off-field set up. We were made to feel very welcome, had a tour of their super facilities and they clearly have many committed backroom members.?
Cardiff proved their skill in the semi-final against St.Albans Centurions with arguably their best performance in their 50-game history cruising to a 66-14 win. The Demons were 20-0 up at half-time and despite letting their opponents in for three tries, the result was never in doubt with Dave Roberson, Gareth Jones, Neil Thomas and Andy Jones all standing out as players to watch.
Cardiff's assistant coach Anthony Loxton commented, "With this performance we could have beaten anybody and that includes Bridgend and Aberavon. It wasn't as if St Albans were a bad side, it was just that we played better than ever before.?