Blues battle past plucky Kings
PRO14 REPORT: Olly Robinson rounded off a slick team move to score the winning try for Cardiff Blues as they battled past a resilient Southern Kings side 26-19 in the Pro14.
Owen Lane crossed early as Blues came flying out of the gates and captain Nick Williams came back from a sin bin to level things after the bottom-placed side took the lead just after half time.
Tries from Dries van Schalkwyk, Mike Willemse and Masixole Banda weren’t enough for the visitors despite a robust defensive performance against the high-flying Blues.
But Robinson and Jordan Harries exemplified the Blues’ late efforts to notch the bonus point for the Blues that keeps them in contention for a top-three finish in Conference A.
With two minutes on the clock, Lane skipped past three players and ran in his fourth try of the campaign as he took advantage of a leaky Kings defence.
But the South African team stepped up their efforts and landed some huge hits on the Blues during an intense opening period.
Tertius Kruger did well to prevent a Blues breakaway before the hosts tried and failed to break through with dozens of drives.
The Blues squandered an excellent chance to extend their lead but the pass to Shane Lewis-Hughes in space on the left wing went straight into touch.
And the away side grew into the game as half-time approached, gaining a series of scrums deep in opposition territory and pinning Cardiff back, but the Blues responded with some dogged defensive play and effective kicking.
Kings piled on more pressure and forced Blues captain Nick Williams to the sin bin as the South African side inched closer.
They eventually got their deserved reward after a series of determined drives allowed van Schalkwyk to cross the line.
Kings picked up where they left off after half time, scoring through Willemse via a familiar route.
A deep line-out and subsequent maul allowed the hooker to cross the line thanks to a powerful team drive.
The stunned Blues flexed their true pedigree minutes later as Williams finished off a multi-phase move to level up the game.
The skipper forced his way over the line after quick feet from his teammates created the space for the No.8 to drive into.
The hosts continued to push forward as they surgically exploited their opponent’s weakness for their third try of the game.
A jinking run from substitute Matthew Morgan teed up Robinson and the flanker crossed to give his side the lead.
With the fourth try and a bonus point now in sight despite the wet weather, Jarrod Evans flicked the ball out wide to an onrushing Harries, who picked up where he left off against Edinburgh to score the all-important try.
Southern Kings rallied and scored with the last play of the game through Banda to secure a well-deserved losing bonus point.
Tries: Lane, Williams, Robinson, Harries
Cons: Evans 3
For Southern Kings:
Tries: Van Schalkwyk, Willemse, Banda
Cons: Pretorius, Banda
Cardiff Blues: 15 Aled Summerhill, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Harri Millard, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Jason Harries, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Nick Williams (captain), 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 5 Macauley Cook, 4 George Earle, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Liam Belcher, 1 Brad Thyer.
Replacements: 16 Ethan Lewis, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Keiron Assiratti, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Seb Davies, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Garyn Smith, 23 Matthew Morgan.
Southern Kings: 15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Meli Rokoua, 12 Tertius Kruger, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Bader Pretorius, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Martinus Burger, 6 Henry Brown, 5 John-Charles Astle (co-captain), 4 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 3 De-Jay Terblanche, 2 Michael Willemse (co-captain), 1 Alulutho Tshakweni.
Replacements: 16 Alandre Van Rooyen, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Lupumlo Mguca, 19 Stephan Greeff, 20 Stephan De Wit, 21 Rudi Van Rooyen, 22 Berton Klassen, 23 Masixole Banda.
Referee: Joy Neville (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Dan Jones (Wales), Mark Patton (Ireland)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)