Cardiff Rugby 23 - 17 Hollywoodbets Sharks
HT 17-10
Sat 16 October 19:35 Cardiff Arms Park Ref: Gareth Newman United Rugby Championship

Cardiff Rugby 23 C Cell Sharks 17

Sat 16 Oct 2021 21:10 Cardiff Rugby 23 C Cell Sharks 17

First half tries from Matthew Morgan and Willis Halaholo were enough to inspire Cardiff to a narrow United Rugby Championship victory over Cell C Sharks.

It was an impressive opening 40 minutes for the Blue and Blacks and they thoroughly deserved their 17-10 lead at the break. 

Like last week against Vodacom Bulls, their fellow South Africans launched a second-half comeback but Cardiff stayed in the fightback with Marnus Potgieter adding to Thomas du Toit’s earlier try but Player of the Match Rhys Priestland kept the scoreboard ticking

A significant defensive contribution kept the Sharks at bay in their hunt for a comeback, meaning Cardiff head into next week's home derby against Dragons on the back of a win.

It was a lively start at the Arms Park with Cardiff dominating the opening proceeding but initially struggling to turn pressure into points. 

Successive penalties were tapped quickly and then kicked to the corner but at the crucial moment possession was lost and the Sharks cleared.

That said, Cardiff remained deep in Sharks territory and they eventually settled for a penalty after a period of pressure that could perhaps led to more after Rory Thornton made a fine galloping break. 

Cardiff secured the restart and it did not take long for the opening try. The Blue and Blacks had gone through a succession of phases when Tomos Williams was scragged at the breakdown and was forced to flick an offload out the back to Matthew Morgan.

The diminutive fullback was forced to run back into heavy traffic and he not only avoided any big hits but wriggled out of the grasps of Sharks captain and number 8 to burst clear and score.

Priestland added the extras to give the home side a 10-points lead inside 10 minutes.

A 50-22 as the quarter mark approached gave the Sharks their first real territory and they came away with a penalty. However Ruan Pienaar uncharacteristically hooked his effort wide of the sticks. 

Cardiff continued to control affairs and while they lost Ellis Jenkins to injury, they soon took another major stride forward.

Some impressive work from Owen Lane, who chased down a kick ahead and clattered his opposite number into touch, laid the foundations and a set play fully capitalised. 

Kirby Myhill threw to Seb Davies and looped round the line out to take an offload from Will Boyde and release Willis Halaholo with a short ball.

Halaholo hit the flat pass at pace to slice through the South African defence and canter over unopposed. Priestland added the extras to make it 17-0 after 27 minutes but the Sharks quickly hit back. 

Just like the Vodacom Bulls a week ago, they turned to a tight forward game to make inroads and tight-head prop Thomas du Toit powered over from close range. Boeta Chamberlain then added a penalty on the stroke of half-time to make it 17-10.

The Sharks dominated after the restart and hammered at the Cardiff try-line for the best part of 15 minutes, enjoying a number of attacking scrums and penalties kicked to the corner.

Cardiff defended admirably but as the penalties mounted and the Sharks introduced further sizeable reinforcements, it appeared ominous. 

But just as Cardiff needed a moment of inspiration, first-half try-scorer Halaholo swooped for a jackal just inches from his line, which was rewarded with a penalty, which Priestand cleared. 

The Sharks continued to pile the pressure on the hosts, who were increasingly falling on the wrong side of the referee. 

They weathered the storm and minutes after narrowly firing one penalty wide, Priestland stretched his side’s lead to 10. 

However, the Sharks snatched a fortuitous penalty from the restart and after kicking to the corner and turning the screw, the visitors eventually crossed after the ball was spread to Marnus Potgieter

Boeta Chamberlain added the extras to cut Cardiff’s lead to three and set up a tense finale 

However, a no-arm tackle on Seb Davies allowed Priestland to push the Blue and Blacks back ahead by six points and they weathered the final three minutes to come away with a momentous victory ahead of next week's derby against Dragons.