Anscombe stars as Cardiff punish Scarlets
PRO14 REPORT: Cardiff Blues put on quite a show in front of a sell-out Cardiff Arms Park as an irrepressible first-half display proved enough to see off Welsh rivals the Scarlets with a 41-17 win.
A pair of tries each from Owen Lane and Aled Summerhill brought up the bonus point, with Josh Turnbull making the scoreline all-the-more intimidating come the break.
An assured second-half display saw the visitors salvage some credit with a couple of scores, but the Blues never looked like forfeiting their sizeable advantage.
Blues got off to a rocky start as they lost talismanic Grand Slam winner Josh Navidi to a freakish arm injury just three minutes into proceedings, before Leigh Halfpenny missed the opportunity to give his side the lead when his lengthy penalty struck a post.
The hosts went close as the ball was fed wide to Lane, but for Ioan Nicholas to foil his opposite number’s effort with a sliding try-saving tackle, but it wasn’t long before the Blues made their mark on the scoreboard through a Gareth Anscombe penalty.
And Lane soon made up for his close call when he crossed for the first try of the evening, Shane Lewis-Hughes – on to replace Navidi – made the initial break, with the ball quickly recycled back out to the flyer, who crossed comfortably.
They asserted their advantage soon after through another well-executed line-out move, working the ball to Jarrod Evans, who broke the line in a flash and fed wide to Anscombe, who shifted to Summerhill, with a dart to the corner enough for the Blues’ second.
Scarlets stemmed the tide briefly, but their stay was short-lived as the Blues grabbed a third from an unusual source out wide, Tomos Williams electing to shift play the other way to Lane, with Josh Turnbull on-hand to put the finishing touches to proceedings.
And they wrapped up a bonus point soon after, the set-piece again causing all the damage for the Scarlets, this time a first-phase from the scrum seeing Summerhill take it in under the posts for his second.
The Blues landed a sucker-punch blow on the stroke of half-time, Lane latching onto Evans’ gorgeously flighted kick to double up, giving them a daunting 38-0 lead at the break, just reward for a peerless first-half performance.
Scarlets gave themselves an iota of hope with a Rob Evans try, but the Blues made them work hard, running ten minutes off the clock and making sure that time stayed on their side along with the favourable scoreline.
Playing against 14 after Dillon Lewis’ yellow card, the visitors had the manpower to force a second, Evans bustling his way over once again as the Scarlets went on the hunt for a losing bonus point.
Nicholas pounced on an errant pass from Rhys Carre for the simplest of finishes, but it wasn’t enough as they fell short of a valuable fourth.
For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Lane 2, Summerhill 2, Turnbull
Cons: Anscombe 5
Pens: Anscombe 2
Tries: Evans 2, Nicholas
Cardiff Blues: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Aled Summerhill, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Tomas Williams, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Josh Turnbull, 3 Dimitri Arhip, 2 Kristian Dacey (captain), 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Ethan Lewis, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Seb Davies, 20 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Harri Millard, 23 Matthew Morgan.
Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Kieron Fonotia (captain), 12 Paul Asquith, 11 Ioan Nicholas, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Kieran Hardy, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 James Davies, 6 Josh Macleod, 5 Steve Cummins, 4 Lewis Rawlins, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Josh Helps, 20 Will Boyde, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Steff Evans.
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Frank Murphy (Ireland), Sean Gallagher (Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)