Scarlets 28 - 29 Cardiff Blues
HT 9-19
Sat 15 May 15:00 Parc y Scarlets Ref: Sean Gallagher Rainbow Cup

Scarlets 28 Cardiff Blues 29

Sat 15 May 2021 16:16 Scarlets 28 Cardiff Blues 29

Jarrod Evans' last gasp penalty was enough for Cardiff Blues to secure a hat-trick of victories over Scarlets in a thrilling encounter down west.

Dai Young’s side had led by 17-points following a dominant first half performance, which brought tries for Jarrod Evans, Cory Hill and Hallam Amos, and a score from Josh Turnbull shortly after the break. 

However, the hosts completed a remarkable comeback to take the lead with only a few minutes remaining on the clock.

But the visitors bounced back with two minutes remaining, as outside half Evans kept his cool to slot the match winning penalty under pressure.

Cardiff got off to a shaky start in West Wales as Tomos WIlliams’ clearance from kick-off was charged down prompting a try-line drop. Evans kicked long but at the resulting breakdown Rhys Carré was penalised and Leigh Halfpenny opened the scoring.

But while it was the hosts that kicked the scoreboard into action, it was Dai Young’s men who looked most dangerous in the opening minutes.

With forwards and backs alike carrying with venom, Cardiff went through countless phases with the likes of James Ratti, Seb Davies, Cory Hill and Jason Harries doing particular damage.

Like in the opening exchanges last week, Cardiff showed great patience and continuity as they maintained tempo and piled on the pressure. And the breakthrough came on eight minutes as the Scarlets simply ran out of numbers allowing Jarrod Evans to jink and wriggle his way over.

He converted his effort to give the Blues a 3-7 lead and it could and probably should have been more just minutes later.

Once again, the visitors played with a renewed intensity and they put the Scarlets on the ropes. Space was again created on the left and following an initial dart, Josh Adams fired a long pass to Josh Turnbull, who appeared to finish expertly in the corner.

Cardiff confidently retreated however replays showed is left boot brushed the ground in touch and the effort was chalked off. 

The capital city outfit continued to dominate both territory and possession and set up camp in the Scarlets 22 once more. The pressure was unrelenting and you would be forgiven for thinking Young’s side should have been making it count more on the scoreboard, but it eventually told. 

Having run the same line, reminiscent of those that have twice delivered tries against England, earlier in the game, Cory Hill hit Tomos Williams’ pass flat while cutting inside and did remarkably well as he bundled three men over the try-line and managed to get the ball down.

Evans converted to make it 3-14 but the Scarlets grew into the encounter, partially due to a succession of beneficial refereeing decisions. 

Having failed to make a breakthrough following a long period of pressure, they kicked a penalty to the corner and Ryan Ellias crashed over after peeling around the back but he was held up thanks to the excellent defensive work of Evans

That allowed Cardiff to clear their lines but it was not long until another penalty was forthcoming and Halfpenny made amends for an earlier miss as he made it 6-14

The penalty was a blow for the Blues, who deserved more than an eight point lead for their early dominance, but they quickly crossed for a third try.

Possession was quickly gathered from the restart and following a succession of quick phases, Evans took the ball and played out the back to Jason Harries. The giant wing created the extra man and released Hallam Amos, who dummied to Josh Adams to race past Leigh Halfpenny for a fine try. 

Evans was narrowly off target from wide and Halfpenny responded with another penalty with the final kick of the half to bring the score to 9-19 at the break. 

Following a fine first half performance, it took Cardiff just four minutes to claim a bonus-point try after James Ratti laid the foundation with two thunderous carries.

The 23-year-old was proving to be a revelation in the number eight jersey and seconds after a strong charge, he burst through the Scarlets defence, breaking two tackles and was unfortunate to be hauled down short. 

However, the damage was done and another ferocious carry saw Turnbull crash over under the sticks with Evans once again converting. That put Cardiff in a commanding position with a 17-point advantage.

The Scarlets responded through Cardiff Blues academy graduate Dane Blacker, who had replaced Kieran Hardy but Halfpenny’s conversion from in front of the posts was charged down by Harries.

That ensured the Blues’ lead was reduced by just five however, Blacker was soon on hand to finish a second try for the hosts to set up a tense finale. 

Turnbull failed with an ambitious captain’s challenge and O’Brien converted to make it 21-26 with ten minutes to play.

With the hosts in the ascendency, they finally completed the comeback as replacement Dan Jones' perfectly weighted dink found the hands of O'Brien to touch down under the sticks.

However, from the restart, the visitors enjoyed rare second half possession in opposition territory, with Keiron Assiratti making a dangerous half break on the outside, before Jarrod Evans broke the line in the 22, but his dummy was read by Rogers. Despite the missed attacking opportunity, Young's men came back strong, securing a penalty and Evans showed his composure to slot over and give his side a one-point lead.

There was still drama to come with the clocking approaching red, as the referee went upstairs to look at a potential dangerous tackle from Gwilym Bradley, but concerns were dismissed upon review. Cardiff maintained possession in the dying moments, allowing Evans to kick the ball dead and secure a second consecutive one-point victory.