By Rich Jones
Cardiff Blues suffered local derby disappointment as they went down 31-7 against the Ospreys in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
Just five days after being thrashed 62-25 by Exeter, a young Blues side were unable to prevent their second straight defeat in the competition.
A straight red card for debutant Anton Peikrishvili proved costly for Richard Hodges’ side as the Ospreys pulled clear to secure a bonus point in the closing stages.
The hosts got off to the worst possible start as hooker Scott Otten powered over for the Ospreys after just 69 seconds.
They kicked for touch after winning an early penalty at the breakdown and executed a textbook catch-and-drive to cross the line.
A sublime kick from Phil Jones from the right-hand touchline ensured the Blues trailed 7-0 early on, but they gathered themselves well after seeing off another spell of Ospreys’ pressure.
They were soon level as some quick thinking from scrum-half Rhodri Davies saw him score from a tap-and-go penalty.
Some superb handling from the Blues back line allowed Cory Allen to set free James Beal on the left, and he moved inside the Ospreys’ 22 before they were penalised at the breakdown.
Davies duly spotted a hole in the defence and sliced through from 15 metres out to cross the whitewash before a successful Ben Jones conversion drew them level.
After some scrappy exchanges before half-time, the Ospreys were handed a chance to head into the break with a lead as they earned a penalty just outside the Blues’ 22.
Yet Jones pushed his effort just right of the posts from a tricky angle to ensure they went into the interval level.
The Blues came close to a wonderful try two minutes into the second half, but Beal was not quite able to collect an exquisite grubber kick from Dan Fish which appeared to have unlocked the Ospreys’ defence.
And just five minutes later the game was turned on its head as Georgian prop Peikrishvili was sent off on his Blues debut.
He was involved in a scuffle and was shown a straight red card, and the Ospreys reacted instantly to score their second try moments later.
A big drive from a line-out was stopped just short, yet scrum-half Brendon Leonard grounded a delicate kick in the corner before Jones expertly added the extras.
Peikrishvili’s dismissal had already left the Blues with a mountain to climb, but when Cardiff University student Tom O’Flaherty sped clear in the 61st minute for the third Ospreys try it all but ended their chances.
O’Flaherty, who replaced the injured Eli Walker after just 19 minutes, capitalised upon a Blues knock-on to run almost the length of the pitch and slice past full-back Fish for a fine individual try.
The Blues tried to force their way back into the game but some resolute Ospreys defence prevented them from adding any further scores.
And the Ospreys twice broke clear in the closing stages to condemn them to a comprehensive defeat
A classy long pass from centre Jonathan Spratt allowed Dan Evans to cross in the left corner in the 76th minute, but it was O’Flaherty who saved the best until last with a remarkable solo effort in the final minute of the game.
He collected a kick from 70 metres out and sliced through the heart of the Blues defence to bag his second score and cap off an excellent night for his side.
For Cardiff, it was a tough evening which leaves their chances of progression in the Anglo-Welsh Cup looking slim.
Back-to-back defeats in the competition will come as a disappointment following an encouraging start to the season.
They will nonetheless hope a number of young players will have benefitted from the experience and will reap the rewards as the season progresses.
Try scorer Davies was particularly impressive at scrum-half, whilst the likes of Bradley Thyer and Shane Lewis-Hughes also demonstrated plenty of positive signs.
The Blues will be back in Guinness Pro 12 action next Friday, November 25 as they travel to Connacht.