Blues hang on in tense derby
Sun, 20 Apr 2014 20:03
Ospreys clinch tense derbyIn the first of two of the day's Millennium Stadium encounters, Alex Cuthbert's score saw the Blues start off with a bang.
Scarlets came roaring back through Rhys Priestland just before the break but in a second half which saw both Robin Copeland and Liam Williams sent off, the Blues did enough to hold on.
The Blues were enjoying a fine run of form in the Pro12 after victories over Edinburgh and Ulster in their last two games - and started as they meant to go on against Scarlets.
In front of a packed crowd in their own city, star wing Cuthbert burrowed over the whitewash from inches out to press home the Blues' early foothold after four minutes.
Cuthbert remained in the thick of things as Liam Williams was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle on the airborne back.
But Scarlets continued to be knocked off their own stride, Gareth Davies doing the damage with his boot by knocking over two penalties in quick succession.
The Blues' assault was unrelenting and they could have had another score if not for a knock-on in the build-up to Macauley Cook's finish, while Robin Copeland was also making inroads into Scarlets' defences.
Then, in a desperate turn of luck for Simon Easterby's men, Jordan Williams' penalty from halfway smacked the inside of the left post and bounced back out.
On the half-hour mark Scarlets found their breakthrough when Priestland burst through to dot down under the posts, after Jake Ball had charged down Dan Fish's kick.
Priestland missed a routine conversion but reduced the deficit to six points with a penalty of his own just before the break in response to Davies' third of the afternoon.
It was the turn of Scarlets to attack the start of a half with pressure and they were nearly awarded with a try, but Kristian Phillips was called back for a forward pass from Jonathan Davies.
And they headed into the last 25 minutes of the match with a man advantage as Copeland was sent off for a kick to Williams, who saw his second yellow card of the game as tempers frayed.
The Blues then had the chance to extend their lead to more than a score, but Davies failed to hit the target with his penalty for the first time in the match.
And Ken Owens was the man to make them pay, first breaking into Blues territory down the right before popping up at the back of maul to power over for the try.
Replacement Steve Shingler failed to add the tricky conversion before Davies attuned his kicking radar to belt another three points between the posts.
Scarlets needed a try to complete their comeback and could have done so with one last rolling maul, but the Blues held on by the skin of their teeth.
Pens: G Davies 4
Red Card: Copeland
Tries: Priestland, Owens
Red Card: L Williams
Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 Chris Czekaj, 10 Gareth Davies, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Macauley Cook, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Tau'fao Filise, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Gethin Jenkins (captain)
Replacements: 16 Rhys Williams, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Chris Dicomidis, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Simon Humberstone, 23 Gavin Evans
Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Kristian Phillips, 13 Jonathan Davies (c), 12 Gareth Maule, 11 Jordan Williams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Josh Turnbull, 7 John Barclay, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 George Earle, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Phil John
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Johan Snyman, 20 Sione Timani, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Frazier Climo
Referee: Ian Davies
Assistant referees: Sean Brickell, Simon Rees
TMO: Gareth Simmonds
Dragons 10 - 20 Ospreys
In the second all-Wales clash at the Millennium Stadium for Judgement Day, both teams missed a glut of chances to put points on the board in the first half.
But Richie Rees touched down after the break to plunge Ospreys' playoff hopes into jeopardy before Tom Habberfield snuck over the line on the hour-mark.
Dan Biggar kept their points tally ticking over with the conversion and two penalties, before the Dragons finally cracked to yield a penalty try late on.
Ospreys' top-four hopes had taken a blow two weeks ago after a loss to fourth place Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun but got themselves back on track with an impressive win against Leinster.
And the play-off chasers immediately piled on the pressure, their success came from the wings, with Hanno Dirksen and Jeff Hassler looking particularly potent early on.
Full-back Richard Fussell also got in on the act and plunged for the line in the seventh minute, but play was called back for a knock-on.
Then Dan Baker went even closer on the quarter-hour mark as the Wales No.8 spilled while attempting to ground the ball after a smart exchange by Hassler and Justin Tipuric.
Ospreys continued to pin their opponents down without finding a cutting edge as last-gasp defending thwarted them time and time again over a breathless ten-minute period.
And the Dragons nearly turned all that pressure around after Will Harries - chasing down his own kick - forced the ball loose from Fussell.
Ryan Jones however earned a yellow card for infringing the play and put paid to that attack, but still the Dragons came as Taulupe Faletau surged up the touchline with the try-line looming - only for Fussell to steal the ball back.
The game entered half-time scoreless but, if not for inaccuracy within the opposition 22 both sides would have put points on the scoreboard - and Dragons finally did early in the second half.
Hallam Amos was the instigator with a glorious offload, as the ball cycled across to Richie Rees who was on hand to touch down. Burton made no mistake with the conversion.
Soon after replacement Nic Cudd was the second man to see yellow for the Dragons for killing the ball but despite a period of pressure, just a Biggar penalty - from 40 metres out - came of those ten minutes.
Eventually through Ospreys found their killer touch, scrum-half Habberfield the man to spot the gap after Ashley Beck came up short inches away from the line.
Biggar's extras extended his side's slender advantage yet there was still only three points in it - and a deliberate knock-on from Jonathan Spratt, resulting in a yellow, gave Dragons the opportunity to claw back the deficit immediately.
Wing Tom Prydie belted his side back level with the penalty but Biggar slotted another three-pointer moments later to keep Ospreys in front.
And Steve Tandy's men avoided any scares at the death as, after Morgan earned a yellow for preventing release of the ball, a huge push saw referee Nigel Owens award a penalty try with five minutes to go - which Biggar duly converted.
Tyler Ardron was close to adding the icing to the cake after failing to ground the ball but the final whistle blew with Ospreys clinging onto their playoff hopes.
Yellow Cards: Cudd, Morgan
Tries: Habberfield, Penalty Try
Cons: Biggar 2
Pens: Biggar 2
Yellow Cards: R Jones, Spratt
Dragons: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Will Harries, 10 Kris Burton, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Lewis Evans, 6 Netani Talei, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Andrew Coombs (c), 3 Duncan Bell, 2 T. Rhys Thomas, 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Bruce Douglas, 19 Cory Hill, 20 Nic Cudd, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Tyler Morgan.
Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Jonathan Spratt, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Hanno Dirksen, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tom Habberfield, 8 Dan Baker, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Joe Bearman, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Ryan Jones, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Duncan Jones.
Replacements: 16 Scott Otten, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Adam Jones, 19 Tyler Ardron, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Tito Tebaldi, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Aisea Natoga.
Referee: Nigel Owens
Assistant referees: Neil Hennessy, Jon Mason
TMO: Derek Bevan