A new season, new pitch and a new captain; An overcast Friday evening in central Cardiff had the promise to mark a new beginning for the Cardiff Blues.
Gareth Davies kicked - off landing the ball in the hands of the Sale offence who took no time in driving the ball up field. A break by Sale scrum-half Dwayne Peel was re-called only to see the visitors drive a maul, resulting from a line-out win, over the white wash putting the first five points on the board for the visiting side. Converted by Nick Macloed.
After a penalty win by the Blues in the fifth minute, which saw Gareth Davies neatly slot the ball through the posts, the home side once again conceded, allowing Sale to further their lead 3-10. In what seemed to present itself as a half of penalties, an illegal tackle on Blues' Flanker Copeland whilst exiting the scrum saw Sale concede a further penalty. Luckily for Manchester based side, Davies' boot drifted just shy of the left post.
A driving attack from Sale saw the Blues on the back foot. Sales' Dwayne Peel pushed towards the Cardiff Blues' try line narrowly missing a chance to score. The ball was recycled into a resulting ruck, with Peel returning to feed the ball to fly-half Macleod. A long overhead pass from the ten took the ball to the wing where it was received by Sam James who, with only grass in front of him, flew over line to score the second try of night. Converted by Macleod.
A foul on Blues' wing Dan Fish saw Mark Cueto Yellow carded arguably giving the Blues their first attacking promise of the game. A scrum in the Sale twenty-two saw Copeland make a break for the line but was unfortunately brought back with the scrum reset five meters out. After a two false starts Sale unfortunately cleared.
Two Cardiff Blues penalties saw Gareth Davies close the gap between the two sides in the run up to the half time break with Sale leading by 8 points.
Half Time: Cardiff Blues 9 Sale Sharks 17
With the Blues fielding a new team for the second half a fresh energy was brought to the pitch. A dominant presence in the Sale twenty-two saw Filise crash through Sales defences coming inches of the line. With the ball recycled, Patchell offloaded to young full back Tom Williams who side stepped Cipriani to ball over the whitewash, Sale defence still attached, scoring the Blues first try on the night. Converted by Rhys Patchell.
Atmosphere was tense and the Blues looked to close the gap between the two sides. Whilst trying for the line the Blues lost possession but momentarily turned Sale over with scrum-half Lloyd Williams scooping the ball and clambering beneath the Sale defence and forcing the ball across. Patchell once again scored the extras.
Minutes later, Owen Williams, cementing his presence on the field, picked the ball and took a direct line down the centre breaking the Sale gain line and breezing to a finish under the posts. Patchell retained his one hundred per cent scoring record converting the try to put the Blues comfortably in the lead 30 - 17.
The Blues, continuing their fight saw a gutsy drop goal from Patchell, whom from the half way line, booted the ball between the posts to add an extra three.
Gareth Davies returned to the pitch as cover for an injured Patchell which saw the Blues fighting for control in the scrum, a superb forward drive from the Sale front row allowed Dwayne Peel to touch down and bring Sale some much needed points. Joe Ford converts.
With the forwards putting in the ground work the ball was fed to Patchell who, with a touch and go kicked the ball over the Sale line, an unfortunate blockage by the Sale defence prevented the ball returning to Patchell, however a fumble by Ford bounced the ball into the hands of an oncoming Dafydd Hewitt who added his name to the growing list of Blues try scorers. Converted by Patchell.
The Blues battled until the end with Owen Williams scoring one more try in the final minute of play. Patchell kicked the ball wide, missing the conversion. The Blues ended their first match on the new artificial pitch with a win, 45-24.
15 Chris Czekaj/ Tom Williams 14 Harry Robinson 13 Richard Smith/ Owen Williams 12 Gavin Evans/ Dafydd Hewitt 11 Dan Fish 10 Gareth Davies/ Rhys Patchell 9 Lewis Jones/ Lloyd Williams
8 Robin Copeland/ Luke Hamilton 7 Thomas Young/ Josh Navidi 6 Andries Pretorious/ Macauley Cook 5 James Down/ Filo Paulo 4 Bradley Davies 3 Scott Andrews/ Benoit Bourroust 2 Matthew Rees (c) / Kristian Dacey/ Marc Breeze 1 Tom Davies/ Sam Hobbs/ Taufa'ao Filise
15 Tom Arscott 14 Thomas Brady 13 Andy Forsyth 12 Samuel Tuitupou 11 Mark Cueto 10 Nicholas Macleod 9 Dwayne Peel
8 James Gaskell 7 David Seymour 6 Michael Paterson 5Kirill Kulemin 4 Johnathan Mills 3 Henry Thomas 2 Thomas Taylor 1 Ross Harrison
16 Marc Jones 17 Aston Croall 18 Vadim Cobilas 19 Andrei Ostrikov 20 Mark Easter 21 Daniel Braid 22 Nathan Fowles 23 Joe Ford 24 John Leota 25 Daniel Cipriani