Cardiff Blues 22 - 5 Benetton Rugby
HT 8-0
Mon 16 November 19:45 Rodney Parade Ref: Frank Murphy Guinness PRO14

Cardiff Blues 22 Benetton Rugby 5

Mon 16 Nov 2020 21:00 Cardiff Blues 22 Benetton Rugby 5

A stunning Owen Lane try inspired Cardiff Blues to a hard-fought victory over Benetton Rugby to kick-start their Guinness PRO14 season.

Following three consecutive defeats, the capital city region knew only a win would suffice at their Rodney Parade home-away-from-home.

A first half try from Rory Thornton, which was just rewards for a gargantuan effort from the pack, put Cardiff Blues in the driving seat.

And mid-way through the second-half, Lane making his third appearance of the season following a shoulder injury struck in devastating fashion.

The try, which Jarrod Evans converted, gave the Blues a commanding 15-0 lead, and while Benetton hit back through Tomas Barravalle, John Mulvihill’s charges hung on.

In the final moments, replacement Ben Thomas slid in to seal the victory as Cardiff Blues bounced back to take the win in horrific stormy conditions.

It was Cardiff’s third consecutive victory over Benetton, their sixth in a row against Italian opposition, moving them level on points with the Scarlets in second place.

Cardiff Blues were dealt a blow before kick-off as James Botham was withdrawn after being called into the Wales squad. That saw Olly Robinson switch to the familiar openside and James Ratti come into the blindside

In appalling conditions at Rodney Parade, with swirling wind and rain, both Keatley and Evans fired wide.

Much of the opening quarter was spent in Cardiff Blues territory but Benetton were met by some typically stern defence, with Corey Domachowski and Josh Turnbull leading the charge.

Evans booted his side into the lead on 23 minutes and ten minutes later Rory Thornton claimed the opening try, his first for the club.

The opportunity came after the Cardiff Blues pack, which was in the ascent at the set-piece, forced a scrum penalty. Evans dinked the ball to the corner and a clean lineout was secured to set up a drive.

Easy yards were initially made before Benetton slowed the maul but just as it ground to a halt, Thornton spun off the back to crash over.

Evans was unable to convert from wide but the try gave the hosts a deserved 8-0 lead which they hung onto going into the interval.

Cardiff made an error strewn start to the second half and again they came under sustained pressure from the Italians. They turned the screw as they edged towards the whitewash but once again the Blues stood tall and eventually claimed a turnover to clear.

With the game poised in the balance and advantage being played the Blues struck. Lane displayed his devastating pace as he hit the line in the 13 channel to burst through two defenders.

The atrocious initially aided him as a Benetton defender was unable to scramble across but he kept his own footing superbly as he stepped Jayden Hayward and raced clear

With the clock quickly running down, replacement Thomas slid in under the sticks to give his side hope of snatching full points at Newport.

With enough time to restart, the playmaker did make a half break down the left hand side, but was unable to find support on his inside, and a couple of phases later the opportunity was cut short after Benetton knocked on in midfield.