Corey Domachowski crashed over for a dramatic derby winner as Cardiff inflicted a 15th consecutive BKT United Rugby Championship victory over Dragons RFC.
It was an electric start to the encounter at sold-out Rodney Parade with both sides threatening to score in the opening minutes.
First, the Dragons went on the attack and a clever kick through from Stef Hughes game flying Ashton Hewitt a sniff. He beat Adams on the turn but Priestland was on hand to dot down and save the day.
Just a minute later it was Cardiff’s turn following a bruising Adams counter attacking. He burst through two defenders at full pelt before offloading to Thomas Young. The flanker was able to offload to Taulupe Faletau before he was bundled into touch and the number eight crashed over but the pass was forward.
Moments later Cardiff had the chance to open the scoring but Priestland’s touchline effort sailed marginally wide.
The frenetic start continued and Hewitt was again close as the ten minute mark approached. Quick hands released the wing, despite the final offload appearing forward, to put him outside Owen Lane.
He handed off one defender and appeared destined for the try-line before former Dragons favourite Faletau showed every ounce of his vast experience and class to cover across and bundle the wing into touch.
Cardiff remained camped in their own twenty-two as the Dragons continued to attack with venom. The Blue and Blacks good work at the breakdown kept the hosts at bay before Young’s side were able to clear.
They kicked long and Cardiff now had the Dragons on their try-line only for a mêlée to breakout involving multiple players around the half-way line. Referee Ben Whitehouse consulted the TMO and replays showed Bradley Roberts had tripped Thomas Young off the ball and the flanker retaliated.
Roberts was swiftly sent to the bin and Young was given a talking to for throwing the hooker to the floor. The decision incensed the home crowd but the decision was clear and correct, with only the partisan Rodney Parade faithful seeing differently.
Despite the penalty and numerical advantage, a miss functioning line out allowed the Dragons to surge back down field and they hammered at the Cardiff line.
A try or yellow card appeared increasingly likely but Cardiff defended for their lives and the Dragons eventually settled for a penalty, which JJ Hanrahan slotted. Hanrahan soon added a second, after Cardiff were caught offside from a wayward kick, making it 6-0.
However, Cardiff soon hit back following a breathless, and often loose period of play where the Blue and Blacks continually reacted the quickest. Adams and Rhys Carré sparked the attack with the prop managing to free his hands to offload and allow Tomos Williams to dart over.
Again, a scuffle broke out, with the Dragons attempting to niggle and provoke at every opportunity. As Priestland limped off, Whitehouse awarded the Blue and Blacks a penalty following the conversion and Jarrod Evans jogged on to give his side the lead.
He then kicked to the corner and the Dragons paid the price as Cardiff quickly claimed a second try. The ball was spread to left where Evans took the ball to the line and passed inside to Lane, who burst through and then offloaded to Adams. Evans added the extras to give Cardiff a 14-6 lead.
Young would have been delighted to take the eight point lead into the break but there was time for more action and the Dragons responded in the dying moments to allow Rio Dyer to sneak in the corner.
Hanrahan was unable to convert from wide but the try had cut Cardiff’s lead to three at the interval.
Cardiff were made to make a further change at the break with Will Davies-King coming on for Dmitri Arhip and the young tight head soon played his part as he withheld huge pressure to win a scrum penalty.
From there Cardiff worked their way downfield and went coast to coast before claiming a stunning try.
The Blue and Blacks switched the play back to the left where Evans displayed remarkable sleight of hand to catch and pass in one movement as he took contact to release Adams.
Adams tore down the left and the obvious option was to pass to use Theo Cabango with a two on two. But the British & Irish Lion showed incredible vision to send a grubber inside for Williams. The scrum-half collected the trickling ball and skipped past the last man to finish a fine team effort.
Evans failed to convert but his hand in the build up was worth its weight in gold and Cardiff led 19-11.
Hanrahan and Evans exchanged shots at goal as Cardiff just about kept the fired-up hosts at arms’ length.
That was until the Dragons rumbled over on the 65th minute and Hanrahan was on hand to cut the Blue and Blacks’ led to a solitary point.
The Irish fly-half soon knocked the Dragons in front as the clock ticked into the final eight minutes, and Cardiff knew they needed a moment of inspiration in order to continue their winning streak over the nearest rivals.
With the clock quickly approaching the red, a key turnover from Ellis Jenkins allowed Jarrod Evans to find the corner, putting the Blue and Blacks in prime position to attack and they made no mistakes in the hunt for five points.
With Seb Davies securing the line-out, the inital driving maul was halted, but the forwards continued to hammer the door down and the pressure eventually told as replacement prop Domachowski crashed over, sparking scenes of celebrations amongst the visitors.
The win takes Cardiff to fifth in the table as they now turn their attention to back-to-back home derby encounters with Ospreys and Scarlets.