Judgement Day Proves a Hit As Cardiff Blues Shock Ospreys
The fifth instalment of the yearly rugby show between the four Welsh regions proved a hit, as 60,000 people packed in to the Principality Stadium to watch Welsh Rugby’s best battle it out.
With the Lions squad only days away from being announced, and coach Warren Gatland being present, it was evident that there was a lot more to this years Judgement Day to compare to the previous ones.
The day kicked off with Cardiff Blues taking on the Ospreys, only a matter of meters away from their usual home ground, the Cardiff Arms Park.
The Capital region have struggled this season, after what was a positive start to the season following huge wins over Glasgow, and Munster away in Ireland, but their form slipped after a narrow loss to Leinster, and it was in fact Ospreys, who took advantage of this dip by demolishing Danny Wilson’s boys in the reverse fixture, 46-24.
Cardiff were looking for revenge, and they certainly delivered by scoring three tries within the first 25 minutes, coming from hooker Kristian Dacey, bulldozing number eight Nick Williams and scrum half Lloyd Williams.
Cardiff seemed like almost a different team, with the first 40 minutes of this fixture being undoubtedly Cardiff Blues’ greatest 40 minutes this season.
At half time, Ospreys were down 21-3, with key leaders such as Josh Matavesi, Bradley Davies and Justin Tipuric not fulfilling the performances that were common from the internationals. Cardiff continued to capitalize on Ospreys errors and by the 46th minute Cardiff were 35-3 up, following tries from Taufa’ao Filise, his first for 6 years, and fly half Gareth Anscombe, who superbly gathered Willis Halaholo’s grubber.
Ospreys managed to secure two consolation tries, but it wasvery clear that the home team were deserved winners, and managed to shock the Pro12 play off hopefuls, who’ve taken quite a hit following this upset in terms of play off hopes. It’s interesting to think what could have been, had Dan Biggar been involved in the Ospreys team.
Man of the match Ellis Jenkins proved his ability by outplaying Lions hopeful Justin Tipuric, by completing 26 tackles and was ever effective at the breakdown. It’s a travesty that the academy product wasn’t involved in the Welsh squad during the 2017 Six Nations.
The second game featured fellow play off hopefuls Scarlets and strugglers Newport Gwent Dragons.
With great talent on show, and a number of Lions hopefuls in Liam Williams, Ken Owens and Jonathan Davies, it was a shame that it couldn’t quite live up to the performance that the first game lived up to.
Despite this it was still a very close fought game, as both teams went in at half time equal at 6-6. The decisive moment came in the 59th minute when a superb break from Jonathan Davies tore the Dragons apart. Only meters away from the line, Davies offloaded to replacement scrum half and former Dragon, Jonathan Evans, but a superb tackle from Adam Hughes denied him.
Although Hughes succeeded in preventing a try, he received a harsh yellow card for failing to release Evans, although it was very much a cynical foul by the Dragons winger.
Jonathan Davies went over the whitewash shortly after the infringement, and bizarrely Welsh fullback and winger Liam Williams converted despite not being a regular kicker, as with fly half Dan Jones being taken off the pitch, no regular place kicker was present on the pitch.
Williams himself also went over not long after, and Scarlets were clear winners, with no real chance of Dragons getting back at 21-6 down with 10 minutes to go.
Adam Hughes did make up for his previous error by scoring a consolation try in the 80th minute, but Scarlets were deserved winners in what was a great day of rugby.
Once again an openside flanker was man of the match, with young Ollie Griffiths proving that he is also deserved of Welsh spot, after a marvelous display from the Newport boy.
At only £10 per ticket at one of the best rugby stadiums in the world with the best Welsh players on show, there wasn’t much wrong with Judgement Day V.
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