Cardiff hand Young a fitting return with derby win
MATCH REPORT: Cardiff Blues interim director of rugby Dai Young celebrated his return to the region after a 10-year absence with a 13-10 win over the Scarlets in Llanelli.
The result completed a quickfire double over their hosts, having beaten them 29-20 at the Cardiff City Stadium only a fortnight ago.
However, Young missed a lot of the action as a serious road traffic accident on the M4 delayed his arrival until midway through the first half.
Matthew Morgan scored the Blues’ try, with Jarrod Evans adding a conversion and two penalties.
Blade Thomson responded with a second-half try for the Scarlets, while Leigh Halfpenny kicked a penalty and a conversion.
The Scarlets dominated early possession and territory, but a malfunctioning line-out prevented them from capitalising and they were made to pay when the Blues scored the first try after 14 minutes.
The visitors built up a period of pressure but did not appear threatening until a delightful offload from Evans gave Morgan the chance to race away and score a try on his 100th appearance for the region.
Two minutes later the Blues suffered a blow when their captain, Cory Hill, left the field with a leg injury to be replaced by Rory Thornton.
However, with the Scarlets continually making handling errors and conceding penalties, the visitors were able to overcome the setback of losing Hill by extending their lead through a simple penalty from Evans to give his side a deserved 10-0 interval advantage.
A high tackle from Evans on Scarlets centre Johnny Williams gave the home side the chance to dominate the opening period of the second half and they were rewarded when Halfpenny kicked a penalty to put them on the scoreboard.
The Scarlets then introduced Ken Owens for his first game since injuring his shoulder at Glasgow back in October, but this was off-set with the loss of powerful number eight Sione Kalamafoni, who was led off in a dazed state after a heavy collision.
The Blues, for whom James Botham impressed throughout, also made substitutions, with long-term absentee Josh Navidi coming on at number eight, while Wales props Rhys Carre and Dillon Lewis also took the field in time to see Evans kick his second penalty.
The home side looked to have scored their first try when a cross-field kick from Dan Jones resulted in replacement Angus O’Brien seizing on the loose ball to touch down, but TMO replays showed that Johnny McNicholl had impeded Morgan.
However, the Scarlets persisted with their cross-field kicks and it paid dividends when Thomson latched on to one from Steff Hughes to collect and score.
Halfpenny converted but that was as close as the Scarlets got, with a late yellow card for scrum-half Kieran Hardy not helping their cause.
For Cardiff Blues:
Pens: Evans 2
Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Josh Adams, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Josh Turnbull, 7 James Botham, 6 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 5 Cory Hill (captain), 4 James Ratti, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Liam Belcher, 1 Corey Domachowski.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Rhys Carré, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Seb Davies, 20 Alun Lawrence, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Ben Thomas, 23 Aled Summerhill.
Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Jonathan Davies (captain), 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Josh Macleod, 6 Blade Thomson, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Tevita Ratuva, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Kemsley Mathias, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Josh Helps, 20 Ed Kennedy, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Sam Costelow, 23 Paul Asquith.
Referee: Craig Evans (WRU)
Assistant Referees: Ben Whitehouse, Mike English (both WRU)
TMO: Sean Brickell (WRU)