Cardiff Blues’ long-awaited return to rugby did not go to plan as the Scarlets claimed a comfortable victory in West Wales.
Following an enforced break of more than five months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Guinness PRO14 resumed behind closed doors at Parc y Scarlets.
With the condensed format to the season ending any hope of Champions Cup qualification, or a play-off place, the emphasis for John Mulvihill’s men is developing and building into the 2020-21 season but they were left disappointed in Llanelli.
The hosts raced into an early 12-point lead following tries by Ed Kennedy - a late replacement in the side after the withdrawal of Blade Thomson - and man of the match Steff Evans.
The visitors got back into the match thanks to a fine try for Josh Adams - his sixth in seven appearances for Wales' Capital Region.
Only eight points separated the sides at the interval, but Scarlets flew out of the blocks in the second half to put the game beyond doubt. Evans added a second, before Sam Lousi and Johnny McNicholl rounded off the performance.
Matthew Morgan grabbed a late consolation score for the visitors, whose attention now turns to next week's clash against Ospreys at Rodney Parade.
Following a minute’s silence in respect of all of those who lost their lives to Covid-19 and Scarlets’ long-standing announcer ‘Tommo’ who passed away earlier month, a Unity Moment took place.
Cardiff Blues and Scarlets players formed a circle side by side with each and every player taking a knee in support of the #RugbyAgainstRacism movement.
Then, following a wait of almost six months, rugby finally got underway once again.
It was the Scarlets, who came flying out of the blocks with an early chance for Kennedy, who was was a late addition to the starting line-up in the place of Blade Thompson.
Hallam Amos tackled him expertly into touch with the try-line at his mercy but the home side did not have to wait long and it was the blindside flanker that needed no second invitation after Evans sliced through midfield and linked with Johnny Williams.
Leigh Halfpenny pushed the touchline conversion wide and the Blues looked to have hit back almost immediately, however Aled Summerhill’s effort was ruled out following some obvious accidental crossing.
Alarm bells rang once more after a Halfpenny penalty rifled off the right upright. The ball flew back over Olly Robinson and fell into the arms of Josh Macloed, who had a three to two overlap on the right but the Blues scrambled heroically.
Two minutes later, the Scarlets claimed a second try as a promising opportunity backfired for Mulvihill’s men.
With space worked on the right, Harri Millard attempted to thread a grubber through but it ricocheted off wing Evans, who then hacked ahead for an opportunist score.
This time Halfpenny was on target to give his side a 12-0 lead after 22 minutes.
Cardiff Blues were continuing to create half opportunities and another strike play off set-piece saw them make good territory on the left but again play broke down due to errors.
The Blues finally struck as the half hour mark after space was again found on the edge. Halfpenny hit a looping Evans pass away from Adams but play continued.
Possession moved to the right and after Kristian Dacey bounced out of contact he dummied past Gareth Davies and then offloaded to Millard, who showed a delightfully deft pair of hands to put Adams away for his sixth try in seven matches.
Evans landed to conversion to cut the deficit to five before Halfpenny made it 15-7 with a penalty and the Scarlets pressed for a third.
The Blues had been playing the clock down to half-time, close their own line when they were pinged for sealing off.
Scarlets opted for the scrum and centre Williams flew into Ben Thomas at full tilt but was held at bay and a phase later Cardiff Blues pounced for a turnover penalty.
Cardiff Blues made a bright start to the second-half with Tomos Williams making an electric break from the base but it came at a cost with the scrum-half departing with a shoulder injury after the Scarlets earned a breakdown penalty.
The visitors were dealt another blow minutes later when the Scarlets scored a controversial try to pull away. Steff Evans kicked ahead and both he and Adams grounded the ball at the exact same moment.
The Television Match Official confirmed a simultaneous grounding however the try bizarrely stood as that was the initial on field decision. Halfpenny hit the uprights but matters were soon made worse when Josh Turnbull departed for the sin-bin.
Scarlets claimed a bonus-point try on 48 minutes with Tongan international Lousi driving over from close range with Halfpenny splitting the uprights to make it 27-7 to the hosts.
They stretched their lead further after a rolling maul on the Scarlets try-line saw the ball lost and the hosts go the length of the field, making it 32-7.
With 15 minutes remaining, Cardiff Blues claimed their second try of the afternoon to give themselves the faintest glimmer of hope. Adams hit a beautiful short line and offloaded out of contact to Thomas, who slipped the ball away to replacement full back Morgan.
Evans was unable to add the extras as a the score remained 32-12 but it appeared as though that hope would grow all the more brighter when Morgan crossed for a second time in two minutes.
It was a stunning effort off the top of the line out with Morgan and Adams combining out wide but the try was ruled out for a forward pass.