Pro14: Edinburgh 17-19 Cardiff Blues - visitors score three second-half tries to stun hosts

By Thomas DuncanBBC Scotland
Lloyd Williams' try sparked a second-half comeback for Cardiff
Lloyd Williams' try sparked a second-half comeback for Cardiff
Edinburgh 17 (14)
Tries: Fowles, Mata Cons: Van der Walt (2) Pens: Van der Walt
Cardiff Blues 19 (0)
Tries: Williams, Harries (2) Cons: Evans (2)

Cardiff Blues produced a stunning comeback to inflict a first home defeat on Edinburgh since April 2018 and boost their Pro14 play-off hopes.

Nathan Fowles crossed early for the hosts and then set up Viliame Mata to touch down.

But former Edinburgh winger Jason Harries came off the bench to spark Blues' revival, scoring two and setting up Lloyd Williams for the first.

The win moves the Welsh side into third - the final Conference A play-off spot.

Edinburgh meanwhile dropped to fourth behind Benetton and Ulster in the race for a top-three finish in Conference B.

Edinburgh ease into comfortable lead

With the race for play-off places heating up in both Conferences this was an important match for these sides despite the understated timing, as it followed two Six Nations clashes.

Blues in particular could capitalise on defeats on Friday for Connacht and Ospreys - the sides directly above them. But they were on the back foot for almost the whole first quarter.

First, Edinburgh hooker Dave Cherry showed an unexpected turn of pace to gather and burst through after a line-out ball went to deck. He hitch-kicked and stepped Dan Fish, but the Blues full-back just managed to cut him down, only for Fowles to latch on to a popped off-load to score after seven minutes.

Enjoying a rare start, Fowles himself then picked up a loose ball and sniped round a ruck to race clear 10 minutes later. Once through, he fed number eight Mata to stride over. Jaco van der Walt converted both scores to give Edinburgh the perfect start.

Blues though have shown time and again their quality with ball in hand, none more so a week ago in a 10-try thriller with Glasgow. And but for an unbelievable last-ditch tackle from Mata, Aled Summerhill would have taken his tally to four tries in two weeks when he superbly sliced through the Edinburgh defence.

It was the only time Edinburgh's line was properly breached in the opening 40 minutes, their defence superb throughout.

Harries comes back to haunt Edinburgh

Richard Cockerill's side continued to play disciplined, intelligent rugby and pinned the Blues back with their kicking game. Van der Walt kicked a simple penalty to stretch their lead, and with just under half an hour left the Blues did not look like scoring, let alone winning the game.

But then, a bolt from the blue. Olly Robinson slipped a ball inside to Harries and, after a nice off-load, Williams scampered through to touch down. It was badly needed, and the visitors were further boosted when Van der Walt missed a penalty to keep the score at 17-7.

Harries, on as a half-time replacement, soon dealt his former team-mates a blow as he crossed from a wonderful first-phase move off a line-out, then went over in the corner, Summerhill doing brilliantly to step out of a tackle and put his fellow winger in.

Jarrod Evans missed the first conversion but nailed the second from the touchline to edge the Blues 19-17 in front. It was a superb turnaround for the visitors, the quality of attack outstanding to watch.

Then, with a fragile lead, their breakdown specialists came to the fore. Shane Lewis-Hughes won a crucial turnover as Edinburgh pressed for a way back into the game.

Not long after the ball was booted into touch by Williams, and the Blues celebrated snatching a fantastic triumph.

Edinburgh: Fife; Hoyland, Johnstone, Socino, Van der Merwe; Van der Walt, Fowles; Schoeman, Cherry, Ceccarelli, McKenzie (capt), Hunter-Hill, Miller, Crosbie, Mata.

Replacements: Ford, Sutherland, McCallum, Hodgson, Nayalo, Shiel, Hickey, Bennett.

Cardiff Blues: Fish; Lane, Lee-Lo, Halaholo, Summerhill; Evans, L Williams; Carre, Belcher, Arhip, Earle, Thornton, Lewis-Hughes, Robinson, N Williams (capt).

Replacements: Lewis, Domachowski, Andrews, Cook, Lawrence, Blacker, Shingler, Harries.

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