Cardiff secured their first bonus point win of the season against Cross Keys at the BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Friday.
With the race for the top eight so close and the Keys only one place behind the Blue & Blacks both sides knew a win was vital to keep in the hunt. And it was Cardiff that produced arguably the best 30 minutes of rugby they have played all season. The first ten minutes though was a very stop – start affair as both sides looked to gain the upper hand. And the visitors were first on the board after a Cardiff mistake, Barnet Nightingale the recipient of an early Christmas present that James Thomas converted.
From then on though it was all Cardiff. The home side scored three tries that will feature in any try of the season. The first was scored when a break from Gareth Thompson set James Beal away on a run. When the winger found Captain Joe Tomlinson lurking on the wing rather than in the middle of the scrum the hooker was able to continue the movement. And when he was about to be hauled down a little flick pass sublimely found Ceri Young, the wing needing no second invitation to blast over for a try that Thompson converted.
A few moments later and it was the Keys turn to offer up the gifts. A simple move in midfield was read by Will Rees Hole, the centre trotting over under the posts to put Cardiff ahead. The third try came five minutes later. A line-out on half way set up a ruck that allowed Man of the Match Liam Free to set Cam Dolan on his way. The rangy No8 made metres down the blind side before sending the supporting Beal over. Thompson again on target with the extras. And as the half hour mark drew near Thompson himself scored an individual try that is becoming a bit of a trade mark for the outside half. A ruck near the Keys 10 metre line was set up following a lineout and when the ball was moved down the blind side the momentum seemed to have been lost. But when the ball was recycled a spun out to the outside half he spotted two forwards in front of him and glided through the gap, outpaced the cover defence to register the bonus point try.
It could have been more but for a try saving tackle by former Blue & Black Leon Andrews. Dolan, who was leading the forwards charge, intercepted a ball near the half way line and set off down field. And it looked like he would get to the line but for Andrews intervention. The Blue & Blacks though could capitalise on the break but went in at half time 28-7 up.
The second half saw more fight from the Keys, Their scrum, which had been taken apart in the first half looked more solid and they began to get a foothold in the game. Nightingale gave them their first, and as it turned out, only try of the second half as he crashed over from close range. But other than that effort Cardiff’s defence was solid. Thompson landed a penalty to add to his tally but as the Blue & Blacks took their foot off the gas a bit the game became very bitty. The home side did register a fifth try late on the game. Thompson again involved, this time setting up Rees Hole for his second. The fly half was again on target with the extras for a personal haul of 18 points and a 38-14 win.