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Cardiff 21 Scarlets 12

Match Reports | 29th September 2023

Theo Cabango bagged a brace of tries Cardiff kicked off a new era with a comfortable pre-season victory over the Scarlets. 

In his first game in charge as head coach, Matt Sherratt selected a blend of youth, experience and new faces for the first run out of 2023-24.

But it was a familiar face that got 4,289 crowd in attendance on their feet with a first half brace, including a stunning solo effort from inside his own half. 

Ellis Jenkins added a third after the break, and other opportunities were left on the pitch, on an encouraging evening ahead of the new season. 

The Blue and Blacks travel to face the Ospreys next week before kicking off the BKT United Rugby Championship season at home against Benetton on October 21.

Cardiff made a pleasing start to the encounter and controlled possession and territory in the opening minutes. 

A cross-kick from Ben Thomas almost released a leaping Cabango and when the Scarlets surged forward Evan Lloyd, making his debut for the first team, swooped for a textbook turnover to steal a penalty.

Cardiff kicked deep into the Scarlets half and on six minutes they claimed the opening try. It was another debutant that unlocked the west Walian defence with Tinus de Beer jinking through before offloading to Harri Millard.

The centre then released Cabango at full pace and the wing crossed under the sticks. De Beer knocked over the simple conversion for his first points in blue and black, giving Cardiff an early 7-0 lead. 

Cardiff continued to control the encounter with De Beer frequently displaying his quality and variety of play.

There were no further scores in the opening quarter but on 26 minutes Cabango struck for a stunning solo score, which would be a contender for try of the season if not a pre-season friendly. 

The wing received a loose kick in his own half and raced to the try line displaying his electric pace and devastating step as he skipped past six tackles. De Beer converted from wide for a 14-0 lead. 

Dwayne Peel’s men opened their account 10 minutes later as a penalty kicked to the corner saw a patient and well organised driving line out eventually roll over. Charlie Titcombe missed the conversion under pressure from Cabango. 

They had the opportunity to cut the deficit further when Alex Mann was penalised for going off his feat at the breakdown but the Scarlets knocked on at the set-piece and Cardiff exited for half-time.

Cardiff made a host of changes at the interval with Efan Daniel, Teddy Williams, Ellis Jenkins, James Botham, Matthew Aubrey, Arwel Robson, Aled Summerhill and Cam Winnett all called into action. 

Robson, a boyhood season ticket holder and ball boy, made an instant impact with a clever chip and collect, which almost paid dividends. 

The Blue and Blacks did claim a third try mid-way through the half when Robson kicked to the corner and the pack rumbled over with Ellis Jenkins the likely try-scorer.

Robson converted to make it 21-5 as the changes continuing and the likes of Rey Lee-Lo and Harrison James now introduced for the final quarter.

Cardiff had further chances to score but were held up over the line, while a Robson break should have put Lee-Lo away but the evergreen centre could not hang on. 

The Blue and Blacks continued to threaten but it was the Scarlets who struck next, scoring against the run of play from virtually their own line. The west Walians, playing turnover ball, quickly found an edge and Kieran Hardy was on hand to finish.