Cardiff Blues put in a comfortable performance as they scored seven tries to overcome Uruguay, with international rugby returning to the Arms Park for the first time since 1996.
There was only one survivor from Sunday’s 37-0 win over Zebre as Aled Summerhill continued on the wing, as 15 of the matchday squad of 24 were aged 23 or under. A young side, but captained by the experience of Dan Fish who made his 100th appearance for the club.
It wasn’t a great start for Cardiff Blues, with Lewis Jones penalised for a high tackle and Uruguay went to the corner. A few pick and drive phases eventually resulted in second row Ignacio Dotti burrowing over from close range and Federico Favaro converted.
With the visitors a somewhat unknown quantity it seemed like it might be a long night for the hosts, however within two minutes we were back in it after Manuel Diana spilled possession from a high kick.
A strong carry from Shane Lewis-Hughes gave Dan Fish front foot ball and he slid Alun Lawrence through a gap before the number eight stepped past Gaston Mieres and went over. Matthew Morgan converted and within 10 minutes he was back on the tee after a wonderful try.
Lewis Jones made a break sniping from the breakdown and found Lewis-Hughes in support. The ball was then shipped through the hands of Rhys Carre, Liam Belcher and Lawrence before finding Jones again and Max Llewelyn was on hand to score in the corner.
Unfortunately this try went unconverted and Uruguay attempted to retake the lead with two dangerous line breaks. The first was snuffed out by Harri Millard covering a kick through well, before a Liam Belcher turnover ended the second attack.
It seemed like the pressure would keep coming as Aled Summerhill was unfortunate to receive a yellow card for a deliberate knock on, but Cardiff Blues did well to dominate possession and territory, and even launch a dangerous attack through Carre, although it came to nothing.
The main aspect of that 10 minutes was not conceding though, and the home side did that to head in with a 12-7 lead at the break.
Soon after half-time the lead was extended by Cardiff Blues, as Uruguay were caught offside from a kick and Dan Fish kicked to the corner. From there it was all the forwards as the catch and drive was executed perfectly with Ethan Lewis the beneficiary.
Morgan converted but Uruguay broke the defensive line again through Juan Manuel Cat, but more good home scramble defence kept them at bay, and on the counter attack it seemed a fourth try was on the cards.
Harri Millard chipped through with Cam Lewis in pursuit, but Rodrigo Silva seemed to tackle him without the ball. The referee and TMO agreed but it was not a penalty try, just a penalty and yellow card for the fly-half.
That didn’t keep us at bay for long though as from the lineout the ball went to Fish at first receiver who produced a perfect cross kick for Wales U18 international Ioan Davies to step past two players and score.
This was quickly followed by Harri Millard cleaning up some untidy ball with a superb outside arc run, bouncing off one defender and sprinting over for a good individual score.
Uruguay did finally convert a line break into tries, with Felipe Berchesi and Facundo Gattas crossing after some fairly soft defending in midfield from Cardiff Blues, with Berchesi converting both the make the score 31-21 briefly.
However a Rhys Gill try after a Dan Fish offload put the game to bed and with the clock red referee Adam Jones went under the posts for a penalty try from a scrum to see the scoreboard showing 45-21 at full-time.
John Mulvihill will no doubt be pleased with the performances from young front-rowers Rhys Carre, Liam Blecher and Kieron Assiratti standing up, back rowers Alun Lawrence and Shane Lewis-Hughes putting in good shifts and Harri Millard a persistent running threat from outside centre.
The older heads weren’t left behind though, with James Down putting in another big shift, Lewis Jones solid at scrum-half and Rhys Gill strong off the bench.
However, the main man was Dan Fish who, on his 100th appearance, was fantastic at fly-half. He ran the show, made good decisions, was a running threat throughout and the left foot he possesses is a real weapon.
Great to see international rugby back at the Arms Park after so long and hopefully it will be a regular occurrence. Maybe next time the weather will be a bit better though!