The Ospreys and the Scarlets secured vital victories in two superb matches on a glorious afternoon of rugby in the Welsh capital on Saturday.
Two tries in the last ten minutes from Ospreys captain Rhys Webb saw them defeat Cardiff Blues and keep their season alive, with hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions Cup still a possibility. The Ospreys were good value for their victory, starting with real verve in attack, and weathering a see-saw second-half to secure the bonus point win, effectively ending the Blues’ season in the process.
Blues scored two great tries themselves, Josh Navidi’s powerful break setting up a nerve-shredding final quarter. It proved a game too far for the Cardiff side, however, with their winning streak coming to an end here.
Looking at the bigger picture, Blues will be generally happy with this season, having made some great progress. Coach Danny Wilson points to a decent home record this year, and hopes to make the Arms Park a real fortress. There’s no doubt that Blues have been a far improved outfit this term, and they’ll regroup and hope to push for honours next season.
Ospreys face Ulster in Swansea in their season finale, but will need other results to go their way to reach the top six, even if they win that game.
Dragons v Scarlets proved to be a cracker, too, with a total of six tries, including one from the returning Scott Williams. His individual contribution was vast, and saw him deservedly grab the man-of-the-match award. He was ablaze, running some superb support lines, showing no signs of his lengthy spell out of the game. I can’t wait to see him return to the international fold on Wales’ summer tour.
Taulupe Faletau also had a great game. He will be greatly missed by the Men of Gwent. He just never seems to make a mistake on the field, and always leads from the front.
Dragons provided a stern test for their West Wales rivals, but Scarlets emerged victorious to continue their push to finish in the top four. They will now face Munster at Thomond Park in another must-win encounter. Victory would do the Ospreys a huge favour, too. Great to see it coming down to the wire!
I feel the Dragons will be looking forward to the summer for a chance to start afresh, under new management, and possibly new ownership. Gwyn Jones said on Scrum V he’d like to see the Dragons become Wales’ development region, to re-focus their resources towards exposing Wales’ academy stars and Under 20’s to pro rugby. An interesting point of view.
There’s certainly no doubt Judgement Day is here to stay, with over 68,000 fans descending on the Principality for this marquee event. It’s becoming a key date in the Welsh rugby calendar, and I hope it continues to go from strength to strength.