Cardiff Blues ground out a 16-12 win in a fiercely-fought derby with the Dragons before a sell-out crowd at the Arms Park.
Dragons had the better of the opening 10 minutes but it was the hosts, who took the lead with the first try. The home side secured possession in the Dragons’ half for Evans to bemuse two defenders with a mazy run before providing flanker, Lewis-Hughes, with an easy run-in.
Evans converted but the visitors continued to dominate in terms of territory and possession but they lacked the expertise to break down a resolute Blues. In contrast, Blues looked sharp in attack with Evans pulling the strings and good support from Hallam Amos and Josh Adams ensured that their opponents’ defence was constantly under threat.
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Blues suffered a blow when prop Keiron Assarati was forced off with a hip injury to be replaced by Scott Andrews but they overcame this setback to have more of the game in the second quarter and were rewarded with a penalty from Evans to extend their lead.
Two minutes from the interval, Dragons picked up the try that their first-half efforts deserved. On halfway, the visitors’ pack won a scrum penalty and a superb kick from Sam Davies secured his side a five-metre lineout. From there, Dragons’ pack rumbled forward for Basham to score with Davies missing the conversion to leave the Gwent side trailing 10-5 at half-time.
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After the restart, Dragons lock Cory Hill was penalised for not releasing and now with the wind in his favour, Evans attempted the kick from halfway only to see it come back off the crossbar. Moments later, Dragons took the lead for the first time. Basham intercepted a pass from Josh Navidi to race into the home 22. The flanker was hauled down by Evans but the ball was recycled for Screech to burst through a hole in the opposition ranks to score.
Davies converted but Blues were quickly back in front when Dragons’ skipper Rhodri Williams was penalised for a high tackle and up stepped Evans to knock over the resulting kick. Evans was then replaced by Tovey but the former Dragon was unable to give Blues’ some breathing space as his 40-metre penalty attempt hit a post.
Blues still held a one-point advantage going into the final quarter which they dominated, but their sole reward was a Tovey penalty despite Dragons losing wing Ashton Hewitt to a yellow card.
– Press Association
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