Pro14: Cardiff Blues edge Dragons 16-12 in Boxing Day derby

Pro14: Cardiff Blues v Dragons
Cardiff Blues (10) 16
Try: Lewis-Hughes Con: J Evans Pens: J Evans 2, Tovey
Dragons (5) 12
Tries: Basham, Screech Con: S Davies

Cardiff Blues edged Dragons in Thursday's fiercely contested Pro14 Welsh derby.

The home side looked to be cruising after Shane Lewis-Hughes went over in front of a packed Cardiff Arms Park, with Jarrod Evans kicking the conversion and then a penalty.

Forwards Taine Basham and Matthew Screech hit back either side of half-time to bring Dragons back into it.

But Evans and Jason Tovey penalty kicks edged Blues ahead for the win.

Both sides came into the game on the back of derby victories, with Blues having beaten Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium while Dragons had picked up their third win of the season against Scarlets.

Wales World Cup back-row Josh Navidi was making his first appearance of the season for Blues and was handed the captain's armband against Dragons.

Blues took the lead when Jarrod Evans sold the Dragons defence a dummy and darted through midfield before releasing blindside Lewis-Hughes to the line.

Fly-half Evans converted the score and added a later penalty to take Blues into double figures.

It seemed as though Blues would reach half-time with a comfortable lead, but in the last moments of the first period a Dragons driving maul sent Basham over for a try to make it 10-5 after Sam Davies missed the conversion.

Evans was unlucky not to add a second penalty soon after the restart when his long-range effort bounced back off the crossbar.

Dragons made the most of that fortunate escape by taking the lead when Basham intercepted a Navidi pass in his own half and raced away.

Evans got back to drag the Dragons open-side down inside the 22 but the Blues defence had not organised fully two phases on, allowing lock Screech to cut back to the line for a converted try.

Evans nudged Blues back ahead 13-12 with a penalty before being replaced by Jason Tovey, whose first task was to take a penalty against his former team but the left-footer could only hit the left upright with the tricky kick.

An easier chance in front of the posts for Tovey extended Blues' lead to four points with 12 minutes remaining.

Owen Lane had a chance to seal the result but had no chance of fielding Tovey's over-hit cross-kick, but in the build-up Dragons wing Ashton Hewitt was sin-binned for off-side as referee Nigel Owens grew tired of persistent infringements.

Tovey missed the resulting penalty but 14-man Dragons were unable to find a moment of brilliance to snatch back the lead as time ran out and had to settle for a losing bonus point.

Cardiff Blues captain Josh Navidi told BBC Sport Wales:

"I felt all right (after a World Cup injury) and I lasted 63 minutes, though I'm blowing a bit.

"It was nice to be back with the boys and I haven't played here since April I think, so nice to be back out here at the Arms Park.

"I'm a bit disappointed with the way we played. First half we controlled it well, we defended well but in the second half we tried to play too much around the halfway line, though it was good to see the game out."

Dragons captain Rhodri Williams:

"Another tough game, credit to the Blues for getting the result in another typical derby, a one-score game.

"To be competitive shows the progression we're making, we went 10-0 down early on and probably in the past we would have dropped off but it shows there's a belief in the squad to come back into the game.

"It'll be another big week before the Ospreys (on 4 January), we don't want to load everything on one game but we've got to learn from our mistakes and keep building as a squad."

Cardiff Blues: Amos; Lane, Lee-Lo, Thomas, Adams; Evans, T Williams; Thyer, Belcher, Assiratti, Ratti, Turnbull, Lewis-Hughes, Robinson, Navidi (capt).

Replacements: Lewis, Gill, Andrews, Davies, Boyde, Ll Williams, Tovey, Morgan.

Dragons: Talbot-Davies; Rosser, Morgan, Dixon, Hewitt; S Davies, Williams (capt); Harris, Hibbard, Jarvis, Screech, Hill, Wainwright, Basham, Moriarty.

Replacements: Dee, Fairbrother, Brown, Davies, Keddie, Baldwin, Botica, Warren.

Referee: Nigel Owens (WAL)

Assistants: Ben Whitehouse (WAL) and Adam Jones (WAL)

TMO: Sean Brickell (WAL)

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