As a clear cold day dawned tinged with frost, Bargoed were the visitors for the first time to Carmarthen Park in an 11:30 pm kick-off designed to fit in with events across the Irish Sea.
Indeed in a start, befitting the early hour, the visitors outside centre Jordan Howells made a break through the Quins midfield to set up an early attacking scrum. From the set-piece the ball was recycled through a number of phases for Duane Dyer to crash over under the posts for a converted try which saw Bargoed into an early lead.
From the re-start the ball was dropped to allow the home side an attacking position of their own. The ball was picked up at the base by Lawrence Reynolds and was moved wide for Dale Ford to cross in the corner. The conversion was missed, but in a breathless start the score stood at 7-5 to the visitors.
The tempo remained unrelenting as the Carmarthen side began to utilise their rolling maul which allied with the pace and power of their backs began to expose weaknesses in the Blues defence. One sweeping move saw the ball carried by Dale Ford, before being switched along the width of the field to the powerful Morgan Griffiths who could only be halted by a high tackle as he raced for the corner. From the ensuing penalty kicked to the corner, an expertly executed catch and drive saw Lawrence Reynolds under the sticks for a converted try.
With the game reaching the half way point of the first stanza, the home side began to assert their dominance. From another catch and drive by the tight knit forwards, Nick Reynolds offloaded to Dale Ford for his second try. Although unconverted, the lead was stretched to 17-7 from the early unpromising start.
Perhaps, sensing their dominance, the home side began to push too hard. The odd knock on or forced pass began to mark their performance. Indeed it took a midfield break from the impressive Jack Price today playing in the centre to restore the equilibrium as he was able to put Dale Ford through for his hat trick. Steffan Marshall duly added the conversion to the bonus point try to see the Quins to a 24-7 lead.
As the game moved to half time, the momentum of the occasion was halted by a number of injuries to both sides. Bargoed attempted to use their big forwards to make inroads into the home defence, but too often a mistake would halt their progress. Indeed such was their confusion, that a potential shot at goal was shunned in favour of a kick to the corner, only for the ball to be stolen by Shaun Jones. Half time arrived with a worrying head injury to Lawrence Reynolds who was replaced by Richard Bloomfield at the interval.
The second half began as the opening period had with Bargoed in the ascendency and an early penalty attempt for their outside half C Jones who pushed it wide. It was to prove only a temporary reprieve for the Quins, who from a scrum in their red zone conceded another penalty. This time the gift was not spurned and the score closed to 24-10.
This appeared to wake the home side from their second half slumber. The forwards began reverting to their successful mauling game and they were able to utilise the pace and power of their backs once again. From one opportunity, Aled Thomas made a break from fullback. Carrying the ball over the half way line, he found Dale Ford on his shoulder, who raced over for his fourth try of the afternoon. Could he match the five try feat of Jack Price from earlier in the season? Alas it was not to be.
With the score reading 29-10, in favour of the Carmarthen side, the game was won and both sides began to go through the motions. Amidst the usual flurry of replacements came a number of penalties for both sides. From one awarded to the home side, the ball was kicked to the corner and with their forward dominance demonstrated once more were able to work an opening for the replacement Jac Wilson to dive over from close range. Fellow replacement Scott Lloyd converted to take the score up to 36-10 for the Quins.
As the game moved to its conclusion, Carmarthen continued to try and look for openings against the tired visitors. Perhaps with the game in the bag, the accuracy was not quite there and indeed the game ended with the plucky Blues being held up over the try line as they strived for a late score.
Ultimately after an early scare, the Quins came away with a comfortable victory. As we move into March they remain undefeated in the league in 2018. With arguably tougher tests lying in wait, perhaps the question to be asked is what price points on the board?