Four on the bounce for Blues
PRO14 REPORT: Cardiff Blues made it four straight victories, as they edged past Dragons (16-12) at Cardiff Arms Park.
The hosts took an early lead against the run of play when Shane Lewis-Hughes delivered their only try and, despite Taine Basham and Matthew Screech crossing for Dragons, they always managed to keep their Welsh rivals at arms length.
The Blues had a strong defensive effort to thank with Dragons enjoying the greater possession and territory as the home side move to fourth in Conference B.
Dragons started sharply but couldn’t break through and Josh Navidi smartly won a turnover penalty on the Blues line to relieve a period of sustained pressure.
This defensive work paid off not long after when the hosts took the lead, Lewis-Hughes celebrating his new Blues contract by going over after Jarrod Evans broke his way through the Dragons line.
Still, despite the try, Dragons continued to dominate possession of the ball but a mixture of individual errors and some brilliantly resolute defending from the Blues meant the hosts entered the second quarter of the match still ahead.
Evans extended the Blues lead to ten just before the half hour mark as an ill-disciplined Dragons were made to pay for a rising penalty count.
And Dragons’ early dominance of possession faded as the opening half came to a close, the home side building through the phases impressively.
However, Dragons finally got on the board two minutes before half time when, after Sam Davies’ brilliant kick to the corner, Taine Basham crossed the whitewash at the end of a powerful maul.
Immediately after the break it was Dragons who picked up where they left off as Basham was again involved, intercepting and almost making it to the line before Matthew Screech kept things alive and crossed, Davies converting to give the visitors the lead for the first time.
Josh Adams countered for the Blues and, after Rhodri Williams’ high tackle gifted the hosts a penalty, Evans kicked Cardiff back into the lead.
After Jason Tovey, on for the injured Evans, hit the upright from a penalty the away side’s resurgence gathered pace but, not for the first time, they could not translate this into points.
With just over ten minutes to go the Blues then stretched it to a 16-12 lead through Tovey’s penalty after Harrison Keddie was too eager in being found offside.
Dragons were reduced to 14 men for the final ten minutes when Ashton Hewitt was shown yellow for being offside and the Blues ultimately held on for a tight victory.
Man of the match
Despite ending up on the losing side, Basham was a constant threat throughout the contest and thoroughly deserving of man of the match.
The 20-year-old flanker scored once and then set up Screech’s try, sitting at the heart of everything good Dragons did, while he also made the most metres of anyone in orange with 63 and made an impressive 12 tackles.
Play of the day
In a game of only three tries it was the opener that got Cardiff on their way which was the pick of the action.
The score was all down to Evans, the fly-half dummying and breaking beautifully through the visiting line before feeding Lewis-Hughes to scramble over.
For Cardiff Blues:
Pens: Evans 2, Tovey
For the Dragons:
Tries: Basham, Screech
Yellow card: Ashton Hewitt (Dragons, 70)
Cardiff Blues: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Ben Thomas, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Josh Navidi (captain), 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 5 Josh Turnbull, 4 James Ratti, 3 Keiron Assiratti, 2 Liam Belcher, 1 Brad Thyer.
Replacements: 16 Ethan Lewis, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Seb Davies, 20 Will Boyde, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Matthew Morgan.
Dragons: 15 Will Talbot-Davies, 14 Jared Rosser, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Rhodri Williams (captain), 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Taine Basham, 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Cory Hill, 4 Matthew Screech, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Brok Harris.
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Josh Reynolds, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Joe Davies, 20 Harrison Keddie, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Jacob Botica, 23 Adam Warren.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Ben Whitehouse, Adam Jones (both Wales)
TMO: Sean Brickell (Wales)
Report by @PRO14Official