Cardiff Blues turned on the style as Rey Lee-Lo celebrated his 100 appearance with a bonus-point victory over Pau to keep the region’s European Challenge Cup hopes alive and kicking.
The Blues dazzled from the opening minute and raced into a 28-10 half-time lead following four stunning scores from Josh Adams on debut, Jarrod Evans, Ben Thomas and Matthew Morgan.
Evans completed his brace in the second-half and Owen Lane also touched down to put the result beyond doubt.
With a minute remaining, Adams secured a debut hat-trick to make it a great eight as Wales' Capital Region got their European campaign back on track.,
The victory sees Cardiff Blues move six points clear of their French rivals ahead of next Saturday’s rematch at Stade du Hermeau.
The teams were led out by Rey Lee-Lo and his two daughters Katelyn and Kaylah as he made his 100th appearance for the region and he was clearly inspired by the occasion.
Within seconds of kick-off the Samoan ace made a trademark bust and raced deep into Pau territory. The Blues were unable to convert the opportunity, but they remained in the ascent and controlled both territory and possession.
They claimed the opening try on 13 minutes and you would do well to find a finer try on this weekend of European rugby.
It all came from a strong Josh Adams tackle into touch and a quick lineout and although Jarrod Evans initially shaped to kick, he spotted a gap in the French defence and pounced. The electric fly-half beat three defenders before releasing Tomos Williams.
Williams appeared clear but he opted instead for an audacious inside flick out the back to Olly Robinson, running a trademark openside support line, and he then put Adams away.
Evans added the extras to send the euphoric Arms Park crowd into further raptures. Pau battled back with their gargantuan pack flexing their sizable muscle, but the Blues held them at bay and they eventually settled for a penalty.
Wales’ Capital Region continued to cause the Pyrenees team all manner of problems with the like of Olly Robinson and Ben Thomas, and Will Boyde and Matthew Morgan combining to the delight of the crowd.
But it was from another attack that Pau pounced for a try against the run of play. Owen Lane attacked on the right and flung an offload of his own out the back but it did not go to hand. The ball flirted with the touchline but fortuitously stayed in play, allowing Pau’s star full-back Charly Malié to attack.
James Ratti tracked back to make the key tackle but the damage was done and from the next phase and with a three on two, Pau captain Lucas Rey dummied to race over.
Tom Taylor added the extras as Pau opened up a 10-7 lead but it did not last long as Cardiff Blues continued to thrill and they soon struck with two tries in three minutes.
The first came from a cheeky Williams chip with the outside of the boot on the five-metre line. Half-back Evans knew exactly what Williams was doing and collected unopposed to score under the sticks and add the extras.
Two minutes later he was back at the tee after Ben Thomas, making his first start for the region, created and finished another fine try.
With a double-pump pass he put Boyde through a hole in the Pau defence and he then collected a return ball to canter away.
Evans maintained his 100 per cent record and it got even better for the Blues as they wrapped up the bonus-point on 35 minutes.
The attack began in their own half as they worked numbers on the left. Owen Lane collected the ball from Evans on a looping run and tore clear. He stepped inside Malié and offloaded to Adams, who could easily have claimed his second, but he got in on the cat flap act as he put Morgan over for another stunning score.
Evans bisected the uprights to give 28-10 lead going into half-time and it took just 10 minutes of the second-half to claim a fifth try.
Both Lee-Lo and Williams were prominent in the build-up, but it was fly-half Evans that created the score as he spotted space and dinked a pin-point grubber to the corner, which Adams scooped off his boot-laces to score.
Evans was again on target from the touch line as he booted the Blues into a 35-10 lead. To their credit, Pau refused to throw in the towel and they hit-back in similar fashion.
Former All Black Tom Taylor dinked the ball to the corner and Pierre Nueno collected to give his side a glimmer of hope at 35-15.
That was extinguished on the hour mark as Cardiff Blues claimed their sixth try of the evening, and Evans’ second, as once again Williams once again dinked the ball from the base and the fly-half acrobatically finished.
He converted the score to take his personal tally to 22-points and that was to be his final act on an impressive evening at the Arms Park.
Lane was next to get in on the act as the free-flowing Blues continued to bamboozle their opponents. This time it was Ben Thomas the provider as he teased the Pau defence before dinking a delightful cross-kick to the corner, which Lane comfortably collected.
Tovey converted and Lane could have had a second moments later as they burst clear down the right but the sublime Will Boyde, captaining Cardiff for the first time, somehow let the ball slip from his grasps in an uncharacteristic mistake, with Lane on his outside. A rarity on an almost flawless evening.
Samuel Marques claimed a late consolation try for the visitors but it could do little to dampen spirits at the Arms Park.
With a minute remaining, the hosts surpassed the half century mark. Lane made a stunning break in midfield and found Lloyd Williams in support. The scrum half, spotting the space in the back-field, and kicked ahead. There was only one person winning the foot-race to the loose ball, as wing Adams dotted down for a debut hat-trick.