With the upcoming Autumn Internationals just over a week away, there was lots of talk about this being a pretty badly timed derby weekend in Wales, with many of the four regions’ top performers away preparing for the Australia test on November 5th (there’s sure to be fireworks).
That being said, a bumper crowd made it down to the Arms Park on Friday night, ensuring this tasty rivalry lived up to its billing. Having completed the double over Scarlets last season, Blues were hoping to shrug off their recent Pro12 form and return to winning ways after a positive opening few weeks.
A frenzied home crowd were almost stunned to silence when the visitors came out of the blocks firing, take a deserved 14-0 lead through Aaron Shingler and Jonathan Evans after only ten minutes, Evans’ score coming after some sloppy Blues defending allowed DTH Van Der Merwe acres of space beyond a ruck, the Canadian winger producing a delicious offload to his supporting player.
Tom James replied through an intercept try to cut the deficit, before Van der Merwe went over for a score of his own to see the visitors lead 21-7 at the break.
Scarlets continued their dominance into the second half, with Rhys Patchell’s excellent break down the midfield releasing Hadleigh Parkes for the visitors’ bonus-point try. The outcome was never really in doubt after this point, the Blues showing plenty of endeavour but with little reward. On a night that was dominated by the referee’s whistle – and which saw several controversial decisions – Blaine Scully’s outrageous dive in the corner to score the last try of the game at least gave the home support something to savour.
A brilliant game was slightly marred by a ten minute period before half time which saw the Blues awarded numerous scrum penalties on the Scarlets’ five metre line, but the home side just could not convert these opportunities into points. It seemed very strange to me that a penalty try was not awarded. Even stranger, both sides lost a front-rower to the sin-bin during this period, while the advantage remained with the Blues. It was certainly a real talking point with fans on the night.
Without question, crowd chant of the night goes to:
“TJs on fire – he’s got defences terrified”
sung to the tune of 90s dancefloor classic ‘Freed from desire’ by Gala. Tom James really did have another excellent game, his efforts epitomised in a superb last-gasp tackle following a dangerous looking Scarlets turnover. I can’t believe he didn’t get a Wales call-up given his form this season so far.
In the other Pro12 Welsh derby, Ospreys comfortably saw off Dragons 35-17, Keelan Giles scoring two tries to add to his tally this season, which now stands at an unbelievable eight in four matches. Incredible stuff from the winger, who has been spending time in the Wales camp this week, although is also not part of the squad.
Here’s a few snaps we took on a great evening at the Arms Park:
Finally, a huge shout-out to Sean Holley, who was at the Arms Park as part of the Scrum V pundit team on Friday. He took time out for a quick chat about the game and said he’d take a look at my blog! He also writes a brilliant, in-depth rugby blog which you should definitely check out here: