Cardiff shock Scarlets in thriller

Date published: January 1 2016

A late Alex Cuthbert try secured Cardiff a shock 29-27 win over PRO12 leaders the Scarlets at Cardiff Arms Park on Friday.

If anyone in the stands for this one was feeling a little worse for wear from the night before, they were given something to really liven them up in this all action affair. 

A full house didn't have to wait long for the first points of the game, Blues being kicked three points ahead courtesy of Rhys Patchell.

But that opening was cut back as the visitors went over five minutes later. Following a Blues attack that broke down, Aled Thomas picked up on a loose ball before unleashing Gareth Davies down the field. 

Though the ball went out, Scarlets kept up the pressure from a 10-metre line out and Ken Owens nipped in to take advantage of a defensive mess and go over. Thomas kicked the extra two. And just a few minutes later, he was kicking through again. 

Cardiff were having a horror start to the first game of 2016, and it came from their own attack for the second time. After baring down on the line, Scarlets were able to steal it away and DTH Van Der Merwe ran the length of the field to grab try number two. 

But it didn't last for the visitors though, because the Blues – who had been on top for much of the opening 15 – went over for their first try of the evening. 

A counter attack by the hosts' Rey Lee-Lo beat a couple before letting in Cory Allen in the corner who gratefully touched down. Patchell's conversion reduced the deficit to four. Though straight from the kick off Scarlets won a penalty, and that hard work was quickly undone via Thomas' extra three. 

On the half hour mark, they extended the advantage to double figures through another penalty, but this pulsating affair had many more turns to come. 

Lewis Rawlins found himself sitting out for 10 minutes on the brink of half-time, the forward penalised for dragging down a maul. He did succeed in stopping the try though, as the sides went into the break shortly afterwards. 

10 minutes after the break however, there was nothing he could do. An initial burst forward from Manoa Vosawai took Blues into their opponents 22, and the ball eventually came to Dan Fish who slid over. 

And then it all went wrong for the ill-disciplined Scarlets. Already with one yellow behind them, two more came in quick succession to destroy the work they did in the first 40. Steff Evans and Emyr Phillips brought two driving mauls down within two minutes of each other, but it couldn't delay the inevitable. 

Cardiff powered their way through after what seemed like an eternity of pushing towards the line, Kristian Dacey forcing his way through. And the conversion from Patchell put Blues back in front. 

But surprise surprise, Scarlets hit back. Despite still having just 13 men on the field, they went through the phases, and somehow Gareth Davies snuck through the back line to ground and turn the game on its head yet again. 

But despite returning to their full 15, Blues shocked the PRO12 leaders and nicked the game with a couple of minutes remaining. Tom James' burst forward put Scarlets under pressure, and it came through to Alex Cuthbert who powered over by the posts. 

With the scores tied at that point, it was all on Patchell with the conversion. And he sealed victory right at the death in a spectacular New Year's Day match.

The scorers:

For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Allen, Fish, Dacey, Cuthbert
Cons: Patchell 3
Pen: Patchell

For Scarlets:
Tries: Owens, Van der Merwe, G Davies
Cons: A Thomas 3
Pens: A Thomas 2
Yellow cards: Evans, Rawlins, Phillips

Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Tom James, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Manoa Vosawai, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 James Down, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Gethin Jenkins (c). 
Replacements: 16 Ethan Lewis, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Lou Reed, 20 Macauley Cook, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Garyn Smith

Scarlets: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Steff Evans, 13 Gareth Owen, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Morgan Allen, 7 Jack Condy, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Lewis Rawlins, 4 Tom Price, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens (c), 1 Rob Evans. 
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Phil John, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Maselino Paulino, 20 Emyr Phillips, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Steve Shingler, 23 Regan King

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)