Cardiff Blues ended a run of three consecutive PRO14 defeats with a 22-5 victory over Benetton at Rodney Parade. Tries from Rory Thornton, Ben Thomas and Owen Lane saw Blues pick up a much-needed win which saw them join Scarlets in second place in Conference B.
Jarrod Evans kicked a penalty and two conversions to ensure the Italians remain without a league win this season as they could only manage a consolation try from replacement Tomas Baravalle.
Following his call-up to the Welsh squad, James Botham was a late withdrawal from Blues line-up with James Ratti taking his place in the back row.
The hosts soon suffered another setback when they conceded an early scrum penalty but in the difficult playing conditions, Ian Keatley could not capitalise with the 45-metre penalty.
Benetton, with the advantage of a stiff wind, had the better of the opening quarter but it was Cardiff who should have picked up the first score but a 30-metre penalty attempt from Evans rebounded off a post.
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) November 16, 2020
The first quarter, therefore, finished scoreless but two minutes later Evans got the scoreboard rolling with a straightforward penalty. From the restart, Blues’ centre Willis Halaholo knocked-on to give the Italians a further chance to exert pressure but the home side’s defence held firm before breaking away into opposition territory.
From there, the hosts declined a kickable penalty and their decision was rewarded when lock Thornton finished off a driving line-out to crash over to give his side an 8-0 interval lead.
Four minutes after the restart, Cardiff flanker Olly Robinson left the field with an injury and was replaced by Alun Lawrence. Robinson’s departure was the catalyst for Benetton to go on the offensive but despite having a number of promising positions, they lacked the accuracy to benefit and the third quarter finished scoreless.
The incessant rain continued to ensure that handling errors were the major feature of the game and these prevented both sides from gaining any real momentum. The game needed something to raise it from its slumbers and it came when Lane was put into space and the wing burst away to evade a defender and score an excellent solo try.
Despite losing a player to the sin-bin, Benetton rallied to open their account with a try from Baravalle from a lineout drive but Blues had the final say with a last-minute try from Thomas.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 16, 2020
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