Full Time: Cardiff Blues 34-16 Edinburgh
Match Attendance: 4,807
By Rhys Thomas
Rugby is back, and the first round of the new Guinness PRO12 season saw its final match in Cardiff, where there was a clash of the capitals as the Blues welcomed Edinburgh to the Arms Park.
Last term both sides finished in the bottom half of the table – Cardiff in seventh, and Edinburgh in ninth (although the teams were only separated by two points, Ospreys sandwiched in-between them).
The Blues had strengthened significantly over the summer, and new recruits Steve Shingler, Nick Williams, Rhys Gill, Kirby Myhill and George Earle all made the starting team for the opener on a Saturday night.
It was Edinburgh new boy Duncan Weir who scored the first points of the match with a penalty, but it was to be the Blues who got the first try with debutant Shingler easily dummying his way through a stretched Edinburgh defence in the ninth minute, making up for a botched pass after an impressive break earlier in the match. The former Scarlet converted his own try.
Edinburgh hit back with a try of their own from close range, Solomoni Rasolea taking the ball at pace and punching over through a Cardiff defence in disarray, although there was little that could be done to stop the flying Australian when he received the ball five metres out from the tryline.
Weir and Shingler traded penalties, with Cardiff grabbing the next score in the the 34th minute. A penalty try after the Blues forwards got some momentum and a rolling maul was brought down illegally by Edinburgh back-rower James Ritchie, who received a yellow card. The home side deservedly led 17-13 at the break.
With the downpour turning torrential the game stayed tight, until former Ulster man Nick Williams powered over just after the hour mark – essentially putting the Blues out of touch with a 27-16 lead with the New Zealander’s touch down converted by substitute Gareth Anscombe. The fourth try and bonus-point score came a little over ten minutes after, young scrum-half Tomos Williams scampering over past some tired defenders to secure the full five match points.
All in all a very satisfying performance for the Blues and a comfortable victory in the end, and nobody can complain about a bonus-point win to start the season. The major downside to the evening was the poor attendance, dipping below the 5,000 mark. Granted the match was televised by S4C and the weather was poor, but it’s part of a wider downward trend in attendances – hopefully a winning capital city side will attract the support they deserve.
The Blues travel to Cork next Friday to take on Munster in what should be a tougher contest.
Man of the Match: Nick Williams