The Cardiff Blues boosted their Pro14 playoff hopes with a 26-19 bonus-point victory over the Kings in Cardiff on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
Despite the wet conditions, both sides did enough to produce an interesting contest but it was the Blues who adapted better, utilising the wind to suffocate the Kings in the second half.
The hosts got off to a dream start as an attempted chip from Bader Pretorius went wrong. It rebounded and was gathered by Owen Lane, who sprinted clear to the tryline.
While heavy rain played havoc with general play, the Blues, with a huge weight advantage, dominated the Kings at the set piece and breakdown.
The Kings did recover from that poor start and after holding out against a couple of forays into their 22, went onto the offensive themselves.
After a period of good pressure, the visitors were given a boost in their efforts to level the scores when Blues captain Nick Williams was shown yellow for repeated infringements.
After 17 phases of forward pick-and-goes, big lock Dries van Schalkwyk managed to ground the ball over the line under a pile of bodies, with Pretorius converting to make it 7-7 at the break.
The Kings carried that momentum into the second half, winning an early penalty but opting for the lineout instead of going for posts. That decision paid dividends as Michael Willemse went over from the ensuing maul.
While the visitors tried to solidify their position, their problematic scrum gave possession back to the Blues. They were also not helped by the swirling wind, which made completing a lineout for either side incredibly difficult.
After winning a rare lineout near the Kings tryline and taking the ball through the phases, the hosts were able to hit back as Williams atoned for his card by driving over the line.
The hosts then took the lead for the second time in the contest as a strong carry from Olly Robinson brought them into Kings territory. The flank popped up moments later and stepped his way over for their third try.
Cardiff continued to up the pressure in the final quarter, winning a plethora of penalties. Kings centre Tertius Kruger was the next player to see yellow after a dangerous cleanout.
The Kings defended to a man, but the dam wall eventually burst and Cardiff sealed the win and the bonus point when Jason Harries went over in the corner.
To their credit, the visitors fought to the end and earned a deserved losing bonus point when replacement playmaker Masixole Banda went over for a self-converted try.
Cardiff Blues – Tries: Owen Lane, Nick Williams, Olly Robinson, Jason Harries. Conversion: Jarrod Evans (3).
Kings – Tries: Dries van Schalkwyk, Michael Willemse, Masixole Banda. Conversions: Bader Pretorius, Banda.
Cardiff Blues – 15 Aled Summerhill, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Harri Millard, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Jason Harries, 1o Jarrod Evans, 9 Lloyd Williams, Nick Williams (c), 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 5 Macauley Cook, 4 George Earle, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Liam Belcher, 1 Brad Thyer.
Subs: 16 Ethan Lewis, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Keiron Assiratti, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Seb Davies, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Garyn Smith, 23 Matthew Morgan.
Kings – 15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Meli Rokoua, 12 Tertius Kruger, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Bader Pretorius, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Martinus Burger, 6 Henry Brown, 5 JC Astle (c), 4 Dries van Schalkwyk, 3 De-Jay Terblanche, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Alulutho Tshakweni.
Subs: 16 Alandre van Rooyen, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Lupumlo Mguca, 19 Stephan Greeff, 20 Steph de Wit, 21 Rudi van Rooyen, 22 Berton Klaasen, 23 Masixole Banda.
Photo: Getty Images