Pro14 Judgement Day: Ospreys beat Blues 26-23 to earn play-off spot
|Guinness Pro14: Cardiff Blues v Ospreys|
|Cardiff Blues (13) 23|
|Tries: Anscombe, Turnbull Cons: Anscombe 2 Pens: Anscombe 3|
|Ospreys (16) 26|
|Tries: Allen, Smith Cons: S Davies 2 Pens: S Davies 4|
Ospreys sealed a Champions Cup play-off place with a nail-biting 26-23 win over Cardiff Blues.
Ospreys clinched fourth place in Conference A with a late Sam Davies penalty to set up a home play-off tie in mid May.
Gareth Anscombe scored 18 points against the Ospreys side he will join next season.
But the Wales fly-half ended up on the losing side in his final league match for Cardiff Blues.
Anscombe had dominated the pre-match talk after he chose to leave Cardiff Blues at the end of the season and switch to Ospreys.
The Wales fly-half had insisted his allegiances would not be compromised in the crucial final match of the regular Pro14 season.
Anscombe was flawless up until the final 10 minutes with impeccable place kicking and a superb try before he missed a late penalty in a failed attempt to give Blues the lead.
Davies capitalised and provided the match-winning kick in the 79th minute to complete a 16-point haul alongside tries from Cory Allen and Nicky Smith.
Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones and wing George North returned for the first time after suffering injuries in Wales' Grand Slam win over Ireland on 16 March.
Anscombe switched to full-back for Blues with Jarrod Evans at 10 while number eight Nick Williams, scrum-half Lloyd Williams and wing Aled Summerhill also back in the starting side.
Sam Davies opened the scoring for the Ospreys, but Blues responded with a scintillating long-range try from Anscombe after superb work from Owen Lane and Lloyd Williams.
Anscombe converted and added a penalty after some more fluent Blues play. Davies responded with his second penalty.
Lane was forced off through injury after an impressive opening half where he was attempting to impress in his bid to be named in Wales' World Cup training squad, which is to be announced next Tuesday.
Ospreys regained the lead with a well-worked try for Allen from an attacking scrum.
Anscombe's penalty levelled the scores, but Davies' boot ensured Ospreys led 16-13 at the interval.
Wales prop Nicky Smith, who the Blues say they would like to sign for next season, burrowed over for a try which Davies converted to open up a 10-point lead.
Ospreys were reduced to 14 men after Allen was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock on.
Blues immediately capitalised with a try after Josh Turnbull took advantage of a defensive mix-up between Aled Davies and George North to score, Anscombe again converting.
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Replacement scrum-half Tomos Williams appeared to have scored a third Blues try, but it was disallowed by referee Nigel Owens after Nick Williams was adjudged to have impeded Ospreys centre Owen Watkin in the build-up.
Anscombe responded with a penalty to again level the scores before Ospreys were again reduced to 14 men after Dan Evans was yellow-carded, once more for a deliberate knock-on but a penalty try was not awarded.
Anscombe's missed penalty opened the door for Ospreys, who dominated the final exchanges and referee Owens penalised the Blues for not rolling away.
Davies slotted the crucial kick to set up a European Champions Cup play-off tie against Scarlets at the Liberty Stadium on 17 or 18 May.
Cardiff Blues: Gareth Anscombe; Owen Lane, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Aled Summerhill; Jarrod Evans, Lloyd Williams; Rhys Gill, Ethan Lewis, Dillon Lewis, Seb Davies, Rory Thornton, Josh Turnbull, Olly Robinson, Nick Williams (capt).
Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Rhys Carre, Dmitri Arhip, George Earle, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Tomos Williams, Garyn Smith, Jason Harries.
Ospreys: Dan Evans; George North, Cory Allen, Owen Watkin, Hanno Dirksen; Sam Davies, Aled Davies; Nicky Smith, Scott Baldwin, Tom Botha, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones, Olly Cracknell, Justin Tipuric (capt), James King.
Replacements: Sam Parry, Rhodri Jones, Alex Jeffries, Bradley Davies, Dan Lydiate, Matthew Aubrey, Luke Price, Keelan Giles.
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)
Assistant referees: Craig Evans (WRU), Gwyn Morris (WRU)
TMO: Ian Davies (WRU)