Cardiff edge 14-man Dragons
PRO14 MATCH REPORT: Cardiff Blues earned a thrilling inter-pro 19-16 victory over Dragons but that doesn’t tell half the story of the visitors’ rousing 14-man rearguard.
The visitors lost Lloyd Fairbrother to a red card on the half-hour mark and despite a second-half try from Cardiff’s Dan Fish, the boot of Josh Lewis kept them squarely in the contest.
Jarryd Sage gave his side a chance with a late try but Gareth Anscombe’s clutch penalty on the final play earned the Conference A side victory.
Dragons set off on the front foot, but their momentum was stymied on seven minutes when Zane Kirchner was sin-binned for a shoulder charge on onrushing Blaine Scully.
Blues couldn’t take advantage of their man advantage, reaching the red zone for the first time on 14 minutes only for Kristian Dacey’s lineout throw to drift off target.
Indiscipline crept into the visitors’ play and after they were punished for not rolling away at the breakdown, Gareth Anscombe defied swirling wind to stroke over the first three points.
Just as they gained territory and momentum through the set piece, Ceri Jones’ side were undermined once again when Lloyd Fairbrother was given his marching orders for entering the ruck with his elbow and connecting with Dillon Lewis’ head.
But the Conference B side preserved possession, allowing Josh Lewis to drop into the pocket and stroke over a drop-goal before the flyhalf handed his side an unlikely interval lead with a penalty goal on 39 minutes.
Anscombe levelled terms from the tee, kicking a penalty goal from 30 metres to make it 6-6.
The first decisive act of the game came on 54 minutes when the Blues got quick ball and territory, a rarity in difficult conditions and an attritional contest.
Josh Navidi drove over the gainline and quick ball was recycled out to Olly Robinson, whose inside ball was met at pace by Dan Fish to dive over from close range.
Dragons kept plugging away and got their reward for some superb play in the loose when Jarryd Sage picked a perfect running line, broke through and dotted down under the posts to level scores.
An agonising five minutes with the score locked at 16-16 followed, but a scrum penalty gave Anscombe the chance to decide things from the tee with a clinching penalty goal.
For Cardiff Blues:
Pens: Anscombe 4
Drop Goal: Lewis
Pens: Lewis 2
Yellow card: Zane Kirchner (Dragons, 7)
Red Card: Fairbrother (Dragons, 30)
Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Garyn Smith, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Josh Turnbull, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Kristian Dacey (captain), 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 George Earle, 20 James Down, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Matthew Morgan.
Dragons: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Jared Rosser, 13 Adam Warren, 12 Jarryd Sage, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Josh Lewis, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Harrison Keddie, 7 Aaron Wainwright, 6 Cory Hill (captain), 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Brandon Nansen, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Ryan Bevington.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Gerard Ellis, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Lewis Evans, 20 Nic Cudd, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Jordan Williams.
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Mark Patton (Ireland), Tim Spurrier (Wales)
TMO: Ian Davies (Wales)
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