Lloyd Williams celebrated his 200th Cardiff Blues appearance with a much-needed victory as Toyota Cheetahs saw red at the Arms Park.
The scrum-half, who also captained his home region on the occasion and now stands behind only the great Tauafa’ao Filise in the all-time standings, was in fine form as the Blues ended a disappointing period of a winning note.
They went into the encounter on the back of four consecutive defeats and led 17-14 at the break thanks to an Aled Summerhill try and the precision kicking of Jason Tovey and Jarrod Evans.
The Cheetahs lost Jasper Wiese to a deserved red card early in the first half and Cardiff Blues showed no mercy with Turnbull crossing for his side’s second try and Evans keeping the scoreboard ticking.
Following an impeccably observed Act of Remembrance, the Blues came flying out of the blocks still hurting from four consecutive losses in the competition.
John Mulvhill had called for a reaction and he certainly got one as his Cardiff Blues side opened up an 11-0 lead within 15 minutes.
They displayed their willingness to act straight from the off with a fine offload from Corey Domachowski releasing Will Boyde. The Cheetahs infringed at the breakdown and Jason Tovey duly slotted the three points.
Moments later Harri Millard ripped through the South African defence from within his own half. He had support either side in red-hot Summerhill and double centurion Williams and drew the last defender.
However, just as he opted outside to Summerhill, the wing stumbled, allowing the cover to stop what would have been a certain try.
It did not take the Blues long though and it was almost a carbon copy of Millard’s original break. From set-piece they played the ball out the back to Matthew Morgan, who fed the wing. Once again Millard sliced through the Cheetahs defence before putting Summerhill away.
Tovey was unable to add the extras but he was soon centre of attention in a moment of controversy.
With the Cheetahs working their way out of their own 22, the fly-half was hard over the ball attempting a jackal. He was unable to secure possession but seconds later at the same breakdown, he was laid flat on his back by a shoulder charge.
Number eight Jasper Wiese led with the shoulder and connected with Tovey’s head leaving Ben Blain with no choice but to show red.
Tovey recovered to slot the penalty and open up an 11-point advantage with the Cheetahs down to 14 for the next 65 minutes.
It appeared ominous for the Bloemfontein-based outfit but they went into the encounter as the Championship’s top scorers and they soon displayed their attacking edge despite their numerical disadvantage.
Springbok legend Ruan Pienaar took the quick tap and following some scintillating handling and running lines with Anthony Volmick prominent, fullback Rhyno Smith finished.
Pienaar added the extras to make the score 11-7. Cardiff Blues were next on the attack and they were almost the beneficiary of a Cheetahs overthrow.
Liam Belcher came agonisingly close and following a succession of phases it appeared as though Evans had unlocked the Cheetahs defence with an intelligent kick through to the corner but the ball trickled dead before Summerhill could snatch his second.
And the Cheetahs displayed their devastating attack as Junior Pokomela claimed their 22 drop out and offloaded to former Scarlet Clayton Blommetjies, who raced clear.
Pienaar was once again on target as he booted his side into a 14-11 lead. The try left the Arms Park faithful shell-shocked and they soon saw Tovey stretchered off.
However, the Blues kept their composure and Evans, now playing at 10 with Willis Halaholo in the centre, slotted two penalties to take 17-14 lead into the break, with Gerhard Olivier also sent to the bin.
They made the perfect start to the second half as Turnbull crossed the whitewash with Rey Lee-Lo and Halaholo.
Following an arcing Evans break, Lee-Lo bumped off two defenders and his centre partner soon got in on the act with a trademark step. Two phases later quick hands put second-row Turnbull over in the corner and Evans converted from wide.
With a 24-14 lead and a numerical advantage, the Blues were in a commanding position but the boot of Pienaar kept the visitors in touch until Evans nailed two more of his own to make it 30-17.
Evans was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock on in the final play of the game, but the four points were in the bag as Wales' Capital Region survived a late dangerous Cheetahs attack to return to winning ways before their Challenge Cup campaign kick starts at Calvisano next week.