Cardiff Blues Under-18 succumbed to their second defeat of the season, losing 34-26 to Newport Gwent Dragons at Sardis Road.
With driving rain throughout, the match was unsurprisingly littered with handling errors, allied with a high penalty count.
The Blues started much the stronger, spending the opening minutes of the game camped on the Dragons line.
The home pack began to assert set-piece dominance that would last throughout the afternoon - especially at scrum-time - and after a succession of driving mauls from attacking lineouts they were rewarded with a try from Iestyn Harris. Ben Thomas was unable to add the extras.
The Dragons came back immediately, and this time it was the Blues who found themselves unable to escape their own 22.
The penalties tallied up and eventually Joe Miles was sent to the sin-bin for failing to retreat to the goal-line when Dragons scrum-half Daniel Babos tapped quickly and dashed for the line.
Matthew Lewis made up for an earlier miss from the tee and visitors were on the scoreboard. Shortly after, the Dragons scored their first try of the game.
From turnover ball on their own ten-metre line, Joel Mahoney made a break down the blindside. With a man outside him, Mahoney dummied past the defence and had the pace to dot down in the corner. Lewis slotted an excellent conversion.
The hosts struck back immediately with a score of their own. Thomas ghosted through the defence on the halfway line and fizzed out a pass to Rhys Davies who managed to bundle his way over. Thomas added the extras from the touchline.
The ebb and flow of the match continued with another Dragons retaliation. After a relieving kick, full-back James McCarthy chipped over the defensive line and re-gathered the ball to stroll under the posts, and give Lewis an easy conversion.
Thomas had a chance to reduce the deficit to two with the last kick of the half but was off-target. At the interval, the Dragons led 17-12.
Again the Blues started the half well in the ascendancy but initially had no points to show for their efforts.
The pressure eventually told. After Callum Hague was sent to the sin-bin for illegally bringing down a maul, the Blues elected to go wide from the next lineout.
Tom Meehan ran a superb line coming off his blindside wing, and as he was brought down inches short he managed to offload to Thomas, who easily converted his own try.
The Blues lead was short-lived as the Dragons yet again found an immediate riposte.
Centre Davies’ clearing kick was charged down by Tom Hoppe who fly-hacked through and dived to score. Lewis missed the tricky conversion.
The visitors scored twice more in quick succession. First, Hoppe broke through to put McCarthy in for his second try.
Then, after Blues substitute Harry Proctor was yellow-carded, captain Lennon Greggains burst through to the right of a ruck in the Blues 22 and scored underneath the sticks. Iwan Burgwin successfully converted the latter try.
The Blues still had hope of a comeback victory and after advancing downfield substitute back-rower Ioan Davies muscled his way over for a try converted by Cavan Slade.
The home side tried to engineer another score, but time caught up with them and after yet another knock-on the referee blew his whistle for full-time.
Cardiff Blues U18: Ioan Davies; Josh Male, Rhys Davies, Daf Smith, Tom Meehan; Ben Thomas, Jamie Hill; Declan Thomas, Iestyn Harris, Ben Warren, Owen Lloyd, Cian Lewis-Hughes, Alun Lawrence (c), Callyn James, Joe Miles
Replacements: Ieuan Morris, Dan Schwartz, Tom Stacey, Ioan Davies, Harry Proctor, Carl Blacker, Cavan Slade, Cole Swannick
Tries: Iestyn Harris, Rhys Davies, Ben Thomas, Ioan Davies
Conversions: Ben Thomas (2), Cavan Slade
Dragons U18: James McCarthy; Rio Dyer, Tom Hoppe, Joel Mahoney, Corey Howells; Matthew Lewis, Daniel Babos; Nathan Evans, Lewis Ball, Josh Reynolds, Callum Hague, Robert Brookson, Will Fishlock, Taine Basham, Lennon Greggains (c)
Replacements: Z Hewlett, Tom Devine, Taylor Hansen, Harry Oliver, Harry Harding, Dafydd Buckland, Iwan Burgwin, Regan Mahoney
Tries: Joel Mahoney, James McCarthy (2), Tom Hoppe, Lennon Greggains
Conversions: Matthew Lewis (2), Iwan Burgwin
Penalties: Matthew Lewis