Cardiff Blues A came out on top of a thrilling Celtic Cup encounter against Dragons A at Cardiff Arms Park, to claim their first win of the campaign.
Wales’ Capital Region bounced back from defeats to Leinster and Ulster to claim maximum points against their east Wales rivals, as Summerfest spectators were treated to 11 tries on a sunny September afternoon.
It was end-to-end rugby at the Welsh capital, with tries from Dan Fish, Harri Millard and Ben Murphy seeing the hosts head into the break with a four point lead.
Both sides looked to play expansive rugby in a frantic 80 minutes, and the bonus point was sealed early in the second as Lewis Jones crossed the whitewash.
The lively scrum half was influential throughout, capping off an impressive display with his second score of the afternoon, before lock Rory Thornton capped off the victory with his first try in Cardiff Blues colours.
Cardiff Blues A travel to Ospreys next week as they look to make it back-to-back Celtic Cup victories.
Jacob Botica kicked off proceedings for the visitors, and the Newport-based side came flying out of the blocks, opening the scoring within three minutes, with Wales international prop, Ryan Bevington, dotting down under the posts.
Outside half Botica added the extras, however, there was an instant reply from the hosts, as a big carry from Jim Botham made a dent in the Dragons defence.
The Wales under-20 international managed to free his arms to offload to Fish, who had enough pace to run in from 20 meters and touch down. Scrum half Jones made no mistakes with the resulting conversion.
The home side were forced to make an early change as try scorer Fish limped off, and replaced by Jason Tovey, who made his second debut for Wales’ Capital Region, having spent a season at the Arms Park in 2012.
The hosts took the lead as Millard managed to find his way through a couple of Dragons defenders, but the end-to-end rugby continued as Dragons replied moments later.
Ollie Griffiths made the initial break in midfield, to put his side on the front foot. Botica had time to assess his option, and dinked the ball behind the home defence, with Howells on hand to gather and touch down.
The home side bounced back and enjoyed a period of pressure, but against the run of play Howells managed to intercept Jones’ long pass on his own 22.
The foot-race was on, with Aled Summerhill hot on the heels of Howells, but despite his best attempts to recover, the Dragons wing managed to squeeze in at the corner.
The home side went into the break with a four point lead, as they struck for their third try in the final play of the half.
Garyn Smith spotted the overlap, and sent a perfectly weighted long pass wide to Jason Harries who galloped down the right hand side.
Brave defending from the visitors saw the powerful wing brought down short, but lock Murphy was on hand to crash over from close range, and there was no stopping the lock from that distance.
Tovey’s conversion made it 21-17 at half time, and both sides had their sights set on a bonus point in the second half.
It was a frantic opening 10 minutes to the second half, with the hosts striking for their fourth try of the afternoon. A close range driving line-out saw Botham peel from the maul, and his timely offload found Jones in support, who finished impressively in the corner.
Almost immediately from the restart, Griffiths once again broke in midfield, but was tackled meters short of the line.
Dragons had plenty of number on the left hand side, but failed to convert the chance to points thanks to the work rate of energetic scrum half, Jones, who denied Dixon an opportunity to ship wide with impressive work rate.
However, the attack continued and the pressure eventually told, as Tavis Knoyle sniped over from close range to narrow the hosts’ lead to four points once again.
The home scrum half continued to influence proceedings and caught the Dragons defence napping with a quick tap penalty.
He sliced past a host of defenders and showed a turn of pace to finish in the corner and regain his side’s nine-point advantage and securing a brace of tries.
Will Boyde, making his first appearance in Cardiff Blues colours, had instant impact when he was introduced from the bench, producing a wonderful offload to put Rory Thornton in space for his first score since joining the region.
Dragons’ new signing, Sam Davies, created a late consolation score for Rhodri Williams, to put the visitors within sight of gaining two bonus points, but the hosts held out to seal a 40-31 victory.