Cardiff Blues 14 - 26 Saracens
HT 14-13
Sat 15 December 13:00 Cardiff Arms Park Att: 12,018 Ref: Jerome Garces Heineken Champions Cup

Cardiff Blues 14 Saracens 26

Sat 15 Dec 2018 14:52 Cardiff Blues 14 Saracens 26

Cardiff Blues restored pride with a spirited home performance against Saracens at Cardiff Arms Park, but the English champions displayed their ruthlessness to clinch a 14-26 victory.

They were well in the battle for 40 minutes last week before the English giants eased away but this week it was a full-blooded 80 minute performance.

Saracens got off to a flyer in atrocious conditions at the Arms Park and raced into a 10-0 lead thanks to a Sean Maitland try and the boot of Owen Farrell.

It appeared ominous on the basis of Saracens ruthlessness last week but Wales' Capital Region battled back remarkably.

Rey Lee-Lo hit-back with his sixth try of the season and Dan Fish finished a stunning effort as the Blues entered the break with a slender one-point lead.

Farrell edged the former two-time European champions back in front with a pair of penalties as the visitors held out to strengthen their hold on the top of Pool 3.

Saracens had the first opportunity to put points on the board after Lewis Jones was penalised on two minutes but to the delight of a packed Arms Park, Farrell pushed his effort wide.

They controlled the territorial battle for the next five minutes with the England fly-half played the corners intelligently.

When the English champions were awarded a second penalty they went to the corner and following a succession of phases they claimed the first try. A mix up in the Sarries midfield inadvertently created the opening and when Alex Lewington released Sean Maitland, the British and Irish Lion raced around Dan Fish.

Farrell added the conversion and knocked over a penalty on the quarter of an hour mark to give the visitors a 10-0 lead.

The Blues slowly worked their way into the encounter and when they were awarded a penalty of their own at the breakdown, they too went to the corner. The pack were unable to drive the ball over the line and they were instead marched backwards by Saracens' defence.

But after earning a second penalty they opted for a scrum and soon struck back with a try of their own. Lewis Jones sniped from the base of a ruck and timed his pass perfectly to Lee-Lo, who broke one tackle to race over. Anscombe converted from wide to bring the Blues within three points.

Both teams were competing ferociously for every scrap but the marginal decisions from Jerome Garces were all going the way of Saracens. That allowed them to control the majority of field position and allowed Farrell the opportunity to knock over a simple penalty.

However, for the second week running Cardiff Blues took the lead at half-time thanks to a stunning effort. Struggling to power through the Saracens defence on half-way, Anscombe took the initiative and tried a short chip out wide.

The kick was perfectly weighted for Garyn Smith, who took the ball and had the composure get his hands past Maitland to pop back inside to Fish.

The Arms Park-favourite beat Lewington before racing away to touch down unopposed with Anscombe converted for a 14-13 lead at the break.

Cardiff Blues continued to fight fire with fire in the second-half but another contentious decision from Garces, on 54 minutes, allowed Farrell to nudge his side back in front.

Mulvihill's men responded with aplomb and superb kicking from Anscombe, Smith and Fish piled the pressure on Saracens. With an electric Arms Park in raptures the Blues turned the screw.

They kicked a succession of penalties to the corner, leading to giant Australian second-row Will Skelton being sent to the bin but at the third time of asking they were unable to creep over and the visitors received a scrum.

The pack drove through the heart of Saracens at the ensuing set-piece but Garces controversially penalised the Blues to let the English club off the hook.

With 10 minutes remaining, England outside half Farrell extended his side's lead from the tee.

In the final moments of the game, Jamie George crossed the whitewash from the base of a driving maul, with the try awarded after a lengthy consultation with the TMO.