Cardiff Blues 16 - 12 Dragons
HT 10-5
Thu 26 December 15:00 Cardiff Arms Park Ref: Nigel Owens Guinness PRO14

Cardiff Blues 16 Dragons 12

Thu 26 Dec 2019 16:35 Cardiff Blues 16 Dragons 12

Cardiff Blues battled to a hard-fought victory over the Dragons to make it two from two in the Christmas Welsh derbies and finish 2019 on a winning note.

An early try from Shane Lewis-Hughes had put Wales’ Capital Region in the driving seat at a sold-out Arms Park but they never got out of second gear in difficult condition.

Taine Basham and Matthew Screech claimed tries either side of the break to breathe lift into the Dragons and they temporarily took the lead but the kicking of Jarrod Evans and Jason Tovey edged affairs.

Cardiff Blues are next in action on January 3, when they host the Scarlets in the third and final derby during a busy festive period and they will be aiming to make it three from three.

There was a sombre moment ahead of kick-off as the two teams and 12,125 capacity crowd impeccably observed a minute’s silence to pay respect to the brother of Aled Summerhill, who passed away suddenly on Christmas Eve.

It was the Dragons that enjoyed the early territory and possession at a wet a Cardiff Arms Park and after five minutes they laid siege to the try.

Cardiff Blues defended with intent and on his first appearance of the season Josh Navidi came to the rescue with a vital turnover penalty.

The home side were clearly fired up for the occasion and they grabbed the first try on 10 minutes. Jarrod Evans had already caused the visitors some concerns with ball in hand and after an impressive carry from Keiron Assiratti, he sliced through.

He beat two men and drew the Dragons cover defence perfectly to put Shane Lewis-Hughes away for a try just days after he celebrated his new long-term contract with a man-of-the-match performance against the Ospreys.

Evans added the extras to give the Blues an early 7-0 lead.

The Dragons were not without their own opportunities and they were denied a try by a fine last-gasp tackle from former Rodney Parade favourite Hallam Amos.

But the Blues continued to grow into the encounter and every time their backs had possession, they appeared dangerous with Ben Thomas a calming influence in midfield to compliment the hard carrying from the likes of Josh Adams and Rey Lee-Lo.

With the half hour mark approaching Evans knocked over a penalty after the Dragons infringed at the breakdown.

But the Newport-based outfit continued to battle and when they were awarded a scrum penalty on half-way they went to the corner.

They took possession in the middle and drove over from close range with Taine Basham the beneficiary.

Davies fired wide from the left but the try had reduced Cardiff Blues’ lead to 10-5 with half-time approaching.

Evans had the opportunity to nudge the Blues further in front early in the second half but his long-range effort struck the cross bar and moments later the Dragons took the lead.

It was Taine Basham who laid the foundations for the score after he intercepted from deep inside his own half and raced clear.

Evans did remarkably well to track back and bring the flanker down but the damage was done and despite a loose pass former Cardiff Blues academy member Matthew Screech cantered over

Davies converted to give his side the lead for the first time but it did not last long as Evans soon made amends for his earlier miss as he edged Cardiff Blues back in front at 13-12.

That was to be Evans’ last meaningful act as former Dragons man Jason Tovey was called into action.

Tovey struck the post with a long-range penalty as the game remained in the balance and a tense final quarter ensued.

Some smart interplay on the left almost unlocked the Dragons defence on 65 minutes but Adams was unable to scoop Seb Davies’ offload off his shoelaces in difficult conditions.

However, minutes later Tovey split the posts to give the Blues some breathing space as the final ten minutes approached.

The hosts showed managed to keep their visitors inside their own half for most of the closing stages, as they denied the Newport-based outfit a second consecutive late victory.