Cardiff Blues 41 - 17 Scarlets
HT 38-0
Fri 22 March 19:35 Cardiff Arms Park Att: 12,000 Ref: John Lacey Guinness PRO14

Cardiff Blues 41 Scarlets 17

Mon 7 Jan 2019 21:39 Cardiff Blues 41 Scarlets 17

A devastating first-half performance blew the Scarlets away as Cardiff Blues completed a Guinness PRO14 double over their Welsh rivals with a stunning 41-17 victory at the Arms Park.

Following a 34-5 victory at Parc y Scarlets in December, Wales’ Capital Region ran riot once again. They crossed for five tries in a dominant first half thanks to Owen Lane, Aled Summerhill and Josh Turnbull.

The Scarlets hit-back early in the second-half thanks to Rob Evans and dominated for long periods but John Mulvihill’s were virtually home and dry.

Evans’ impressive impact from the bench continued with a second try, but Anscombe struck a late penalty to surpass the 40-point mark.

Ioan Nicholas added a third for the visitors, as he intercepted Rhys Carre deep in the 22, but they were unable to secure a bonus point of their own as Cardiff Blues continued to defend heroically in the final moments.

The five-point haul sees Cardiff Blues remain level on points with Connacht in third place, with the Irish side sealing a bonus point victory of their own, against high-flying Benetton Rugby at Sportsground.

Next up are consecutive games in Ireland against Munster and Connacht before returning to Cardiff to face the Ospreys on Judgement Day.

Following the euphoria of a Welsh Grand Slam, Mulvihill had the luxury of being able to recall all of seven his Six Nations squad members including Gareth Anscombe and Josh Navidi.

But they were dealt an early blow as crowd favourite Navidi departed with an arm injury after just two minutes.

The Scarlets had the first opportunity to put points on the board but former Arms Park favourite Leigh Halfpenny struck the right post. Tomos Williams was the first to react and the Scarlets were penalised at the breakdown, allowing Evans to clear.

A dropped high ball from Halfpenny also allowed Cardiff Blues their first period of pressure. They couldn’t quite find their rhythm but did not leave empty-handed as Anscombe continued from where he left of last week at the Principality Stadium.

With Wales’ Capital Region profiting at the breakdown they were able to take a stranglehold on the game despite a brief counter from the Scarlets after the ball squirted out of a scrum favourably.

The Blues claimed their first try on 15 minutes, having stretched the West Walians on several occasions. Shane Lewis-Hughes burst through the middle and when the ball was recycled Lane raced over for his seventh try in eight games.

Anscombe curled his upright just inside the sticks and he was swiftly back at the tee as Cardiff claimed a quick-fire second.

Jarrod Evans made a stunning line break of first phase and fired a pin-point pass to Anscombe, who moved the ball to Summerhill in one movement and the wing did the rest.

It looked as though Johnny McNicholl would have the angle, but Summerhill displayed his devastating pace to claim his eighth try of the season. Anscombe converted from the touchline to give Mulvihill’s men a 17-0 lead after just 18 minutes.

Cardiff Blues remained in the ascent and were causing the Scarlets all manner of problems as they dominated at the breakdown.

They claimed a third try shortly before the half-hour mark with Evans switching the direction of play down the short side. He put Lane in space and the in form wing drew two men and offloading out the back for Turnbull to crash over.

Anscombe slotted the conversion and the Blues continued to run riot with Tomos Williams almost creating a stunning fourth try. He sold two audacious dummies before kicking to the corner for lane, who outstripped the defence but he was beaten by the dead ball line.

It did not take the Blues long to wrap up the bonus-point however, with Willis Halaholo, who caused the Llanelli-based outfit all manner of problems in December, bursting through midfield.

He bumped off Cardiff Blues product Rhys Patchell before passing outside to Summerhill who raced clear.

Anscombe maintained his 100 per cent strike-rate but Cardiff Blues were not content with four tries and put the Scarlets to the sword with the final play of the half thanks to a Lewis-Hughes turnover penalty.

Evans booted the Blues deep into Scarlets territory and following a succession of phases, he pinged a cross-kick to corner.

Lane collected it comfortably to complete his brace and Anscombe was once again on target to make it an emphatic 38-0 lead at the interval.

Following Scotland’s emphatic comeback from 31-points down England last week, there was little chance of the Blues taking their eye off the prize.

The Scarlets rang the changes with Rob Evans, Ken Owens, Gareth Davies and Dan Jones introduced for the second-half. They almost instantly worked their way into Blues territory thanks to a pair of penalties but toiled for 10 minutes before crossing the whitewash.

Grand Slam hero Evans was the man that burrowed over and Halfpenny opened his account with the conversion.

With the Scarlets reinforced pack turning the screw up front they enjoyed long periods camped in Blues territory, but nothing came easy.

With Dillon Lewis in the sin-bin Evans, who later departed to injury, powered over for a second try, but Anscombe maintained his faultless form off the tee to take the hosts past the 40-point mark.

Ioan Nicholas intercepted Rhys Carré from deep to touch down and give his side the opportunity to chase a bonus point of their own, but Cardiff Blues held out in the final moments to seal a second emphatic win over the Llanelli-based region.