The first match of the season saw the Cardiff Blues run in nine tries against a spirited Blues Regional Premiership XV.
Combined Blues Regional Premiership 3 Cardiff Blues 51
Thursday 14 August, 7.15pm, Sardis Road
After days of rain, the sun shone on Sardis Road as the Blues tried out several new partnerships and welcomed back Chris Czekaj onto the field after a year recovering from a horrific leg injury.
Czekaj got an early first touch after Dafydd Hewitt broke through the defence, and the winger was on his shoulder to take the ball up-field before being pulled down. Quick ball led to Ceri Sweeney looping round on the left and touching down for the first try of the night. The outside-half added the conversion.
The Regional Premiership XV were soon on the scoreboard themselves after being awarded a penalty for not rolling away in a ruck. Halfpenny slotted the kick.
The Blues showed their strength early on after winning a scrum on the Premiership try-line which led to the ball being passed along the blindside through Rees, Sweeney and Mustoe, who crossed over for his debut try. Soon afterwards, some good phases of play in the twenty two saw the Blues again spread the ball wide to the left where Mark Lewis used his bulk to crash over the line.
The Premiership XV showed adventure and tried to run the ball whenever they had the chance but it was the Blues again who got the next score. David Young made a number of substitutions after 30 minutes including bringing Nicky Robinson onto the field of play. The outside-half made an instant impact with a quick long pass to Mustoe, giving the winger half a chance of scoring. This time, Mustoe used his strength to drag defenders over the line to touch down in the corner for his second. Blair was wide with the conversion.
It wasn’t long before the former Bridgend winger touched down for his hat-trick. From a restart, slick handling by Robinson, Blair, and Hewitt saw Mustoe again score in the corner to bring the half-time score to Combined Blues Regional Premiership 3 Cardiff Blues 27.
Combined Blues Regional Premiership 3 Cardiff Blues 27
The Blues Regional Premiership side brought on almost an entire new team and the Blues also made a number of changes, with only Blair, Gareth Thomas and Hewitt remaining from the starting XV.
Despite all the changes, the Cardiff Blues nearly scored again from the restart with a nice move in the backs, seeing players looping round before a forward pass to Aled Brew stopped the move. Brew, however, soon had another chance and he took it superbly. As he collected the ball, he stopped Halfpenny in his tracks and rounded the young winger to score in the corner. This time Blair was accurate with the conversion
Halfpenny, however, nearly had a chance on the other end of the pitch. Some reckless passing in the backs saw the Blues throw the ball all the way back to their own try-line before Brew was tackled by Halfpenny and the development team were awarded a scrum as the Blues knocked on. They failed to capitalise on their field position and the Blues managed to win back possession and clear their lines.
The next score came straight from first phase possession. The Blues won a lineout on the left and Robinson whipped the ball out to the oncoming Blair, who drew his man and fed Brew, who again showed his pace and dived over to score. Blair slotted the conversion
The hour mark saw another 6 players substituted and others have a chance to impress. Yapp came on at tight-head, Flanagan at 10, Sweeney at 12 and Robinson moving to fullback. Robinson showed his pace in the open space and soon got on the scoreboard when he came into the line, rounded his man and touch down.
The Regional Premiership XV, despite trailing heavily, still looked to attack and nearly got their first try of the evening when Scott Andrews made a bulldozing run into the 22. Brew managed to get to the ball but his kick was charged down and the Regional XV were awarded a scrum after a knock-on. Again, they failed to capitalise on their territory and it was Tom James who had the final say, touching down for the Blues’ ninth try of the night.