Cardiff Blues hang on to beat Scarlets
PRO14 RAINBOW CUP REPORT: Jarrod Evans kicked a late penalty to secure Cardiff Blues a third victory this season over the Scarlets, winning 29-28 in Llanelli.
After achieving a double success in the Pro14, Blues recorded a nail-biting victory to keep alive their hopes of progressing in the Rainbow Cup, with a second defeat for Scarlets severely denting their chances.
Wales coach Wayne Pivac was present and he would have been impressed by the performances of Blues halfbacks Tomos Williams and Evans.
Blues scored four tries through Evans, Cory Hill, Hallam Amos and Josh Turnbull, with Evans adding three conversions and a penalty.
Dane Blacker scored two tries for Scarlets. Leigh Halfpenny kicked three penalties while Angus O’Brien scored a try and added two conversions.
Halfpenny gave Scarlets an early lead with a third-minute penalty but Blues soon responded with the opening try.
The visitors maintained possession for a lengthy period, with Jason Harries and James Ratti both making crucial contributions before Willis Halaholo sent Evans over.
Minutes later, Blues looked to have scored again when another flowing move saw Turnbull crash over, but TMO replays showed the Cardiff skipper had put a foot in touch thanks to an excellent tackle from Tom Rogers.
However, it mattered little as the visitors continued to dominate and they were rewarded when Hill forced his way over from close range.
Evans converted before Halfpenny succeeded with his second penalty after missing with a more difficult kick.
But Blues continued to be the better attacking side and it came as no surprise when Amos raced through the home defence to score their third try before Halfpenny kicked another penalty to leave his side trailing 19-9 at the interval.
Five minutes after the restart, Blues scored their bonus-point try when former Scarlet Turnbull forced his way over and the hosts looked set for a heavy defeat.
Scarlets brought on club captain Ken Owens in an attempt to reverse the tide and the decision was rewarded when a strong run from Johnny McNicholl set up a try for Blacker.
The hosts were now in full flow and picked up a second try from Blacker to bring his side right back into contention with nine minutes remaining.
Blues should have sealed victory but inexplicably Evans chose to go it alone instead of supplying Lloyd Williams with a scoring pass and was hauled down.
It almost proved disastrous as O’Brien dashed over for a converted try to put Scarlets in front before Evans fired over the match-winner.
Tries: Blacker 2, O’Brien
Cons: O’Brien 2
Pens: Halfpenny 3
For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: J Evans, Hill, Amos, Turnbull
Cons: J Evans 3
Pen: J Evans
Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Tom Rogers, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Ioan Nicholas, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Angus O’Brien, 9 Kieran Hardy, 8 Ed Kennedy, 7 Jac Morgan, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Lewis Rawlins, 4 Josh Helps, 3 Alex Jeffries, 2 Ryan Elias (captain), 1 Rob Evans.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Steff Thomas, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Morgan Jones, 20 Iestyn Rees, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Joe Roberts.
Cardiff Blues: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Jason Harries, 13 Willis Halaholo, 12 Ben Thomas, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 James Ratti, 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Josh Turnbull (captain), 5 Cory Hill, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Rhys Carré.
Replacements: 16 Liam Belcher, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Keiron Assiratti, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Gwilym Bradley, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Dan Fish, 23 Harri Millard.
Referee: Sean Gallagher (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris, Elgan Williams (both Wales)
TMO: Wayne Davies (Scotland)