Scarlets took on Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park on New Year’s Eve looking to round off 2017 with a double derby victory having secured a Boxing Day win over Ospreys at Parc y Scarlets.
The Scarlets headed to the Arms Park without wingers Steff Evans and Johnny Mcnicholl and had made changes to key positions in the pack.
In what was a fiery and tense affair the Scarlets came out on top in a close-fought contest picking up the all-important four points.
The Cardiff Blues come out of the blocks early winning a penalty inside our 22. Anscombe lines up the penalty. He gets the scoreboard ticking over after 7 minutes of play.
It’s a frantic opening quarter of an hour in Scarlets’ second festive derby. After winning a penalty inside Blues’ half a solid scrum creates a platform for the visitors to attack from. Scrum half Gareth Davies makes a great break from the back of the scrum. Darts around four or five defenders, he’s tackled but gets a beautiful offload out to winger Tom Prydie who crosses for the opening try. Halfpenny adds the conversion.
Blues get straight back into the game with an attacking run into Scarlets territory and referee George Clancy calls a high tackle by Prydie giving the homeside an opportunity to go for the corner. Tensions are running high here at the Arms Park and the Scarlets are warned to keep their discipline after the Blues kick to the corner for the second time. A big push by their forwards pack sees Ellis Jenkins cross the whitewash for their first try of the evening putting the homeside back in front.
With 24 minutes on the clock scrum half Davies shows his electric pace once again as he makes a break from the scrum in a similar position to his last break. This time he’s goes it alone and crosses the whitewash for a try. Referee George Clancy heads upstairs for TMO clarification however and the try is disallowed after James Davies puts boot to ball in the scrum. Blues gets a kick to touch.
Referee penalises Scarlets inside our own 22 and outside half Anscombe takes full advantage pushing the Blues four points ahead.
In the closing minutes of the gfirst half the Blues have an opportunity to cross the whitewash for a second time. With a grubber kick through they have the chase on the ball but Paul Asquith gets his hand to it first. Will Boyde and George Earle collide in midfield but both get back to their feet and continue.
Scarlets finish the half with possession of the ball but it’s the Blues who go in to the changing room with a four-point lead.
Half time: Cardiff Blues 11 Scarlets 7
The half time team talk must have been a stern one with Scarlets coming out of the blocks on absolute fire for the second half. The Scarlets look dangerous from Patchell’s restart with Tadhg Beirne’s long-range pass heading in to touch the difference between a first minute try or not.
It’s a positive start though with the visitords showing plenty of intent and it looks to be a fiery second half to bring the rugby to a close in 2017.
With just four minutes on the clock in the second half the Scarlets, through outside half Rhys Patchell, have added a try to their tally. Tom Prydie gathers the ball in midfield, gets it out to James Davies who shows fantastic pace to win the territorial battle for the Scarlets. He’s a,de the hard yards giving the Scarlets a real attacking opportunity. The players from 1 to 15 remain composed, keep hold of the ball and get Patchell across the line putting the Scarlets back in the lead. Halfpenny adds the conversion.
Cardiff Blues are out of the line at high speed and Hadleigh Parkes is caught on his own behind Scarlets’ attacking line. He’s penalised for holding on to the ball as Blues defenders pile on top of him. Anscombe kicks the Blues to the corner pushing them into Scarlets’ 22 for the first time in the second half after fifteen minutes of play. They charge at the line and get across the whitewash but the try isn’t awarded this time as it’s held up and short.
The Blues have an attacking scrum five metres out. They get the ball away quickly and it looks like it’s going to be a definite try but Scarlets’ defensive play is on top form and they not only keep them away from the whitewash but win a hugely important turnover through turnover king himself James Davies.
The ball exchanges hands in a non-stop frantic fashion as we edge towards 65 minutes. The Scarlets get back into Blues territory but the homeside get a penalty which allows Anscombe to kick for the corner. They have an attacking line out just inside Scarlets’ 22 but they falter.
In what is a tense finish the Blues get back on the attack in Scarlets’ 22 but the visitors hold their nerve, they put in a huge defensive effort and keep the homeside away from the whitewash. The ball is kicked off the park and it’s game over.
Final score: Cardiff Blues 11 Scarlets 14
Man of the match: James Davies