Thomas Young inspired Cardiff to an impressive 35-0 bonus-point win over Cell C Sharks in the BKT United Rugby Championship.
The Durban outfit had been unbeaten at Hollywoodbets Kings Park in five games and no Welsh team had triumphed away from home against any current South African team in the existing format.
However, the Blue and Blacks managed the conditions and implemented their game plan to near perfection as they secured a first win outside Wales since March 2021.
It was a performance full of unrelenting grit and determination, which was typified by Young, who claimed two tries and had a hand in another two.
First the flanker’s opportunist effort forced a penalty try and he then darted over with the last play of the opening 40. That gave Cardiff a 28-point half-time lead and they did not look back.
Young was at the back of an impressive driving line out early in the second half and it was then his refusal to be tackled that laid the platform for Ben Thomas to cross for the bonus-point try.
Sharks continued to fight for a consolation score, but the Cardiff defence refuses to give the hosts an inch, claiming a first whitewash over their opposition since November 2018.
Cardiff made a confident start to the encounter with Lopeti Timani making good yards off the kick-off, Lloyd Williams clearing well and Theo Cabango making a fine tackle on the Sharks number eight. Moments later Frank Murphy awarded the opening penalty and Jarrod Evans made no mistake.
A spilt ball from Evans allowed Sharks the opportunity to set up camp in the Cardiff twenty-two and the home side laid siege after winning a penalty and kicking to the corner. They used Vinvent Tshituka as a battering ram on a number of occasions but the Durban outfit were held at bay and pressure over the ball from captain Josh Turnbull and Thomas Young forced a penalty, which was cleared.
Cardiff soon had the Sharks camped near their own try-line following some fine tactical kicking from Lloyd Williams and an equally impressive chase from Jason Harries. Turnbull and Young worked tirelessly to join the wing but the Cardiff captain caught Anthony Volmink high.
Murphy went to the TMO, which showed a head on head collision but there was a significant change I direction and drop in height to downgrade the offence to a yellow card.
Cardiff managed the period well and Evans added a second penalty on 23 minutes to give his side a 0-6 lead.
The Blue and Blacks, now back to full compliment, pounced for an opportunistic try on 25 minutes. The Sharks lost the ball on the half-way line and Young hacked long into space.
He won the race to the ball initially and hacked on again. With the try-line begging Young dived for the ball but he was just pipped to the ball by Marnus Potgieter. However replays showed the Sharks wing had slapped the ball dead just as Young was about to score. A penalty try was awarded and Potgieter was sent to the bin.
The Sharks went on the attack after a lost ball in slippery conditions and some went on the attack just outside the Cardiff twenty-two. But with Cardiff defence scattered, Cameron Wright took a quick tap, became isolated and Liam Belcher won a turnover penalty.
Just minutes later further good tactical kicking, combined with a number strong kick-chases - the kind of non-talent efforts every coach craves - saw Cardiff claim another penalty at the breakdown.
Sharks heads dropped and Evans landed his third penalty to make it 0-16. With half-time approaching, Dai Young would undoubtedly have been pleased with the first-half performance but it was to get even better as they claimed a second try.
They continued to play a high pressure game and when the Sharks lost possession inside their own half, Lloyd Williams grubber kicked ahead in the slippery conditions and with Lee-Lo bearing down Volmink failed to secure possession.
The Samoan centre snaffled possession and while Williams’ slip pass from the breakdown missed its intended target, Young collected the ball at full pace and darted into the corner.
Evans maintained his 100 per cent success rate to make it 0-23 at the interval. Mistakes began to creep into Cardiff’s game early in the second-half but they soon brushed it off and claimed a third try.
The opportunity arose after Lee-Lo chopped his opposite number in midfield and Jason Harries swooped for a turnover penalty.
Evans kicked to touch and the pack went on a rampaging maul. That earned another penalty, which was kicked to the corner.
Cardiff once again fired up their driving line out and they powered over with Young the beneficiary. Evans was off target with the touchline conversion, his first miss of the night, but the try had given his side a 0-28 lead.
The Blue and Blacks, wearing red and black, soon kicked another penalty to the corner but on this occasion the throw went astray and the opportunity lost.
However, it did not take Dai Young’s side long to claim a fourth, bonus-point, try at the iconic Kings Park.
Their driving line out again laid the foundations as it trundled into the Sharks half before Kristian Dacey broke to good effect off the back, he offloaded to Young, who pumped his legs through numerous defenders to make for more yards than he was afforded.
The Sharks were now caped on their five metre line and after a succession of pick and drives the ball was spread wide to Evans, who had plenty of options and delayed his pass perfectly to let the defenders rush up and leave Ben Thomas unmarked. Evans finally floated a ball over the top and the full-back crossed for a bonus point score.
Francois Venter seemed to have finally got the Sharks off the mark on 65 minutes, but the try was chalked off after the ball was lost in the build-up.
Cardiff emptied the bench during the second half, with a number of youngsters enjoying valuable game-time. However, they continued where the starters left off, not giving the Sharks an inch in defence and holding out the hosts' attempts for a consolation score.
Cardiff travel to Pretoria with all five points, having moved to sixth in the BKT URC table, with Vodacom Bulls the challenge next Saturday.