Cardiff Rugby 55 - 21 Dragons RFC
HT 45-7
Tue 26 December 15:00 Cardiff Arms Park Ref: Ben Whitehouse United Rugby Championship

Cardiff 55-21 Dragons

Tue 26 Dec 2023 16:00 Cardiff 55-21 Dragons

Cardiff Rugby claimed their 18th consecutive league victory over the Dragons in front of a 12,000 Boxing Day sell-out at the Arms Park.

They scored nine tries in all, seven of them coming during a stunning first half display in this BKT URC Welsh derby.

Prop Rhys Carre, returning flanker James Botham and Player of the Match Tomos Willams all crossed twice, with centre Ben Thomas, tighthead Kieron Assiratti and full-back Cam Winnett also touching down.

It’s a result that sees Cardiff rise three places in the table and they will be in buoyant mood going into their New Year’s Day clash with the Ospreys at Bridgend’s Brewery Field.

The first half was to be a remarkable affair as the hosts pulled out a succession of Christmas crackers to lead 45-7 at the break.

It took them just three minutes to open the scoring with loosehead Carre forcing his way over following a series of surges from his fellow forwards.

The Dragons swiftly responded with flanker Harri Keddie crossing to tie things up after centre Aneurin Owen broke the line.

But it was to be pretty much one-way traffic for the rest of the half as Cardiff ran riot.

Carre soon claimed his second when he collected a superbly fired pass from Tomos Williams and bumped two defenders out of the way after good combined work down the right from Rey Lee Lo and Mason Grady.

Just a couple of minutes later, centre Ben Thomas got in on the act as he was fed by Liam Belcher off a lineout and broke the tackle of Taine Basham to reach the whiteash on an angled run.

Cardiff were to have the four try bonus in the bag after just 18 minutes and what a score it was to secure the extra point.

It started and finished with Wales scrum-half Tomos Williams who kicked downfield following a spillage from the visitors. Then came a mighty counter-ruck to regain possession, with prominent hooker Belcher darting away at the side of the ruck and feeding Teddy Williams.

Then came an audacious piece of work from lock Willams who produced a show and a side-step to gallop up towards the line.

He was brought down just short but had the presence of mind to pop the scoring pass up to the supporting Tomos Williams.

It then became the Botham show for a spell as the openside nabbed a couple of tries on his first appearance of the season after some three months out with a hamstring tear.

He was involved twice in his first, storming up the left touchline with a hand off along the way and then reaching the whitewash after Carre had narrowly been denied his hat-trick.

That score was confirmed after a TMO check and it was the same story with Botham’s second, as referee Ben Whitehouse contented himself that the lineout maul drive which produced the try was legal.

Then, just before the break, it was Tomos Williams’ turn to complete his double as he supported a break from the excellent Lee Lo and delivered the classy finish, stepping inside one defender and fending off another.

Tinus de Beer slotted his fifth conversion to make it 45-7 at the end of a pretty extraordinary first half.

Soon after the interval, there was a special moment for prop Keiron Assiratti as he scored just his second try for the region on his 70th appearance.

It was a belter as well, as the tighthead rounded scrum-half Rhodri Williams after being fed off the deck by De Beer.

The Dragons replied with a couple of scores of their own. First, blindside Keddie went over for his second and then came a penalty try via a maul drive which resulted in a yellow card for replacement prop Rhys Litterick.

But, appropriately enough, Cardiff were to have the final word as Cam Wnnett went over after one-two down the left with winger Grady.