Edinburgh 14 - 6 Cardiff Blues
HT 8-6
Fri 28 February 19:35 BT Murrayfield Ref: George Clancy Guinness PRO14

Edinburgh 14 Cardiff Blues 6

Fri 28 Feb 2020 11:35 Edinburgh 14 Cardiff Blues 6

Cardiff Blues fell to a slender loss to Guinness PRO14 Conference B leaders Edinburgh as injuries took their toll despite a fiercely spirited performance at Murrayfield.

The Blues went into the encounter on the back of a second-half revival that saw them claim a bonus-point win at the Arms Park.

They had triumphed on their last four visits to the Scottish capital but came up against the in-form Conference B leaders, who kicked-off the PRO14 season with a win in Cardiff 

But they were dealt a triple blow ahead of kick-off with Shane Lewis-Hughes and Ben Thomas picking up knocks in the team run and Hallam Amos failing a late fitness test.

They were replaced in the starting line-up by Will Boyde, Max Llewellyn, who came in for his first PRO14 start and Dan Fish, with Nick Williams, Ryan Edwards and Ioan Davies coming onto the bench.

And if that was not enough, John Mulvihill also lost his captain, Lloyd Williams in the minutes ahead of kick-off, with Lewis Jones stepping up and travelling reserve, Jamie Hill coming into the 23.

Edinburgh led 8-6 at the interval with their only try coming from an unlikely charge down, while Tovey slotted two penalties.

But the Scots clung on and finally denied Cardiff Blues anything as they added a pair of late penalties.

Despite the major disruption, the Blues made a bright start to the encounter with Jason Tovey distributing well and Dan Fish putting some superb raking kicks along the touchline.

It was the Blues that took the lead with Tovey slotting a difficult long-range penalty from the right but it lasted a matter of seconds.

Straight from the restart, Dan Fish was charged down by George Taylor and the centre collected to score despite the best efforts of scrum-half Jones.

Simon Hickey struck the left upright with the conversion as the score remained 5-3 to the hosts.

Moments later, Fish came agonisingly close to making amends as a neat set move, following a penalty, saw the fullback beat his man on the outside. He almost squeezed in the corner but was dragged into touch by the cover defence.

Cardiff Blues continued to threaten with Garyn Smith bursting through the Edinburgh defence like a stud missile, leaving try-scorer Taylor writhing on the floor in agony, before Jones threaded another kick to the corner.

With a clear game-plan, the Blues continued to pin Edinburgh back as they peppered kicks to the corner. Tovey had the opportunity edge his side on front on 24 minutes but his effort sailed marginally wide. 

Follow that sustained pressure, alarm bells were ringing when James Johnstone sliced through midfield but when he was brought down, Edinburgh were unable to secure the ball at the breakdown and Tovey cleared.

Hickey struck the upright once more as the half-hour mark approached but he was on target minute later after a sustained period of pressure, in which the defence held up well, led to a penalty for not rolling away.

But the Blues finished the half strongly and Tovey slotted the sticks with the final kick to make it 8-6 at the interval.

Wales’ Capital Region made an impressive start to the second-half but they were dealt another major blow when Jason Tovey departed following a heavy collision with Brad Thyer and Pierre Schoeman. 

That saw Fish move to fly-half and Ioan Davies come on for his PRO14 debut.

Edinburgh could have extended their lead following a fortuitous scrum penalty on 59 minutes but Hickey’s effort fell short as Cardiff Blues remained in the fight.

Richard Cockerill’s side piled the pressure on the Blues as play progressed and the home side benefitted from 50-50 refereeing decisions.

They almost claimed a second try when Eroni Sau soared high to reach Hickey’s cross kick but full-back Davies was u to the task and the Fijian international knocked on as they collided.

Edinburgh continued to receive the favour of Clancy’s whistle as the clock ticked past the 70 minute mark and this time Hickey was on target, making it 11-6.

Cardiff Blues had a final roll of the dice when they final received a penalty of their own on 75 minutes and Fish kicked them into the 22. 

But following multiple phases the ball was lost and with it the opportunity to snatch a win against the odds.

Hickey added a further penalty as the clock ticked down, with the losing bonus point cruelly escaping the Blues' grasps.