Cardiff Blues finished the 2019-20 Guinness PRO14 season in style as they completed a double over the Ospreys with a dominant performance at Rodney Parade.
Following a disappointing performance against the Scarlets, John Mulvihill promised a reaction and a simpler and more direct game-plan against the Swansea-based outfit.
First-half tries from Jason Harries and Josh Adams ensured the Blues held a slender four-point lead at the break and they turned the screw in the second-half.
The likes of Seb Davies, Shane Lewis-Hughes and James Botham were all stand out performers as the ‘home’ side turned the screw and dominated every facet.
And while further tries were not forthcoming Jason Tovey maintained a 100 per cent strike-rate and extended his personal tally to 19 points
The Blues made a bright start at their home away from home but found themselves behind on the scoreboard after five minutes.
They were initially penalised at a scrum and after going to touch, the Ospreys were awarded another penalty after Corey Domachowski was adjudged to be off-side.
Stephen Myler converted the ensuing penalty and both sides continued to trade shots with Cardiff Blues implementing a more direct approach and displaying impressive ball retention.
Following a substantial period of pressure they were awarded a penalty of their own as the Ospreys strayed offside and Tovey levelled on his former stomping ground.
The Ospreys edged back in front when Navidi was pinged at the breakdown. It appeared as though the Wales star has pounced for a trademark turnover but referee Adam Jones declared he had not released the ball carrier before going for the jackal.
Myler made it two from two but the visitors’ lead did not last long as Cardiff Blues went on the attack. The initial inroads were made by Max Llewellyn who ghosted through midfield on just his second PRO14 start.
He found Adams in support and the red hot wing backed himself for the line but was unable to break clear. However the damage was done and the Blues were now going through the phases against a disjoined defence.
A loose pass found space on the right and Adams collected to put Harries clear. Tovey converted from the touchline to make it 10-6 after 20 minutes.
Mulvihill’s men continued to play with a far greater intensity than last week in Llanelli and they stretched their lead further with a stunning second try.
It was a first phase strike move straight from the playbook as Tovey went out the back to Harries who had come off his wing on an arcing run.
The try-scorer made good yards before trickling a pin-point grubber to the corner with the outside of his boot and Adams displayed his devastating pace to collect and crash over for his seventh try in eight games.
Tovey converted again from virtually the same spot before the Ospreys hit back against the run of play.
It appeared as though they had run out of options in midfield when a stationary Myler spotted space behind and dinked the ball over the Blues rush defence.
Tipuric and Dewi Cross but Matthew Morgan displayed a remarkable defensive read as he took down the flanker as he collected.
Wales’ Capital Region clung on but the Ospreys moved the ball left to expose a four on two overlap which allowed Dan Evans an easy run in.
Myler cut the Blues’ advantage to four and the score remained 17-13 at the interval.
Cardiff Blues again started brightly and after winning a pair of penalties, Tovey was able to extend his side’s lead to 20-13.
A powerful scrum penalty ensured momentum remained with the home side with Domachowski receiving the praise for getting the upper hand over Tom Botha,
Tovey sent the ball deep into Ospreys territory and two phases later Shane Lewis-Hughes cantered through the middle after a impressive fend. The visitors hung on and Cardiff Blues attacked from left to right with the advantage before settling for another Tovey penalty.
The impressive forward showing against an Ospreys pack containing two British & Irish Lions continued as a driving line out rumbled a remarkable 30 metres. The ball was eventually moved wide and while Garyn Smith was hit hard by the spot defence, Cardiff Blues had the advantage and Tovey kept the scoreboard ticking.
Cardiff Blues remained in the ascent, bossing both territory and possession. Their effort was typified by a clever kick to the corner from Tovey and then a line out steal.
They hammered at the Ospreys but were unable to breakthrough as the Ospreys survived with the score remaining 26-13. Scrum-half Williams also combined with Ethan Lewis and the replacement hooker almost crossed before the chance fizzled out.
Finally, it appeared as though Mulvihill’s men had men had claimed a fortuitous try. Harries had embarked on another powerful run when the ball was lost but fell to Matthew Morgan, who released Adams for a second.
Unsurprisingly the referee called for the TMO and following lengthy consultation it was decided the ball was lost forward rather than stripped in contact.
Opportunities continued to come thick and fast with another opportunity on the left. Space was created and an overlap was created but Morris intercepted to save the day. He could have been clean through but Harries saw the danger and clattered man and ball.
Ospreys crossed for a consolation try in the final play of action, after Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric combined to put Luke Morgan clear.