Pro14: Cardiff Blues 19-16 Dragons
|Pro14: Cardiff Blues v Dragons|
|Cardiff Blues (3) 19|
|Try: Fish Con: Anscombe Pens: Anscombe 4|
|Dragons (6) 16|
|Try: Sage Con: Tovey Pens: Lewis 2 Drop goal: Lewis|
Cardiff Blues edged to a laboured 19-16 Pro14 victory over 14-man Dragons, thanks to Gareth Anscombe's last-kick penalty.
Jarryd Sage's late try threatened to earn the visitors a draw, despite playing the last 50 minutes a man short after prop Lloyd Fairbrother was sent off.
Dan Fish crossed for the only home try early in the second half.
But nine points from the boot of Josh Lewis kept the Dragons in contention.
It was far closer than seemed likely at half-time, with the Dragons just 6-3 ahead and a man down, but they came close to breaking a run of 23 Welsh derbies without a win.
The Dragons, still under interim coach Ceri Jones, were down to 14 men in the 10th minute as Zane Kirchner took out Blaine Scully with a senseless challenge off the ball.
But the home side lost possession twice as they kicked for the corner with the rain pouring down, and after 19 minutes they eventually turned to the boot of Anscombe to drill over a penalty kick into the elements.
Fairbrother's dismissal came in the 31st minute as he caught opposite number Dillon Lewis a glancing blow to the head with his elbow in a ruck, although Lewis's drop-goal and penalty edged the visitors into a precarious 6-3 lead at the break.
It did not look enough, with the visitors forced to withdraw lock Matthew Screech to bring on replacement prop Aaron Jarvis, and Anscombe soon fired over a penalty to level with wind advantage.
The first try finally arrived after 53 minutes with the Dragons' defence stretched to breaking point as man-of-the-match Olly Robinson's astute inside pass put Fish over for Anscombe to convert.
The battling visitors stayed in the game as Lewis belted over a penalty only for Anscombe to reply from a metre inside his own half.
The Dragons managed to draw level after 73 minutes when some enterprising handling culminated in Sage's angled run splitting the home defence, with Jason Tovey's simple conversion bringing the travelling support in a crowd of 8,146 into full voice.
Just as it seemed as though the Dragons could play down the clock for an unlikely draw, a scrum penalty allowed Anscombe a last chance to win the game, and he made no mistake from 15 metres in from the left touchline.
Cardiff Blues fly-half Gareth Anscombe told BBC Sport Wales:
"I was worried that the ball was going to fall off the tee last minute (for the final kick), that was the nightmare really, but I knew where I wanted to put it and when the wind's like that you've just got to give it a good strike, so it was nice to see that go through.
"It was frustrating that we needed that to win, no-one will look back at this game with too many fond memories but it's four points and we needed that, we'll take it and move on.
"The wind was almost so strong that it wasn't as easy as it appeared, you had to be careful where you kicked. We should have put them away much earlier but silly penalties hurt us and our line-out wasn't functioning."
Dragons captain Cory Hill told BBC Sport Wales:
"I'm pretty disappointed that we've lost a derby game away to the Blues, it's tough to take. There was so much good in our performance and we hung on in there right until the end, it's amazing when you keep hold of the ball what you can do.
"We knew we were up against it second half with 14 men into a massive wind, but it was a credit to the squad to really put a performance in."
Cardiff Blues: Fish; Scully, Lee-Lo, Halaholo, G Smith; Anscombe, T Williams; Gill, Dacey (capt), Lewis, Davies, Turnbull, Navidi, Robinson, N Williams.
Replacements: Myhill, Thyer, Andrews, Earle, Down, L Williams, Shingler, Morgan.
Dragons: Kirchner; Rosser, Warren, Sage, Amos; Lewis, R Williams; Bevington, Dee, Fairbrother, Nansen, Screech, Hill (c), Wainwright, Keddie.
Replacements: Hibbard, Ellis, Jarvis, Evans, Cudd, Knoyle, Tovey, J Williams.
Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU)
Assistant referees: Mark Patton (IRFU), Tim Spurrier (WRU)
TMO: Ian Davies (WRU)
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