Edinburgh 17-19 Cardiff Blues

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Cardiff Blues launched a stunning second half comeback at Murrayfield to recover from a 14-0 half-time deficit to beat Edinburgh and leap to third in the Guinness Pro14’s Conference A.

John Mulvihill had been forced into four changes to his starting XV, with Kris Dacey, Josh Turnbull and Harri Millard all injured, and Seb Davies retained by Wales, Liam Belcher, George Earle, Shane Lewis-Hughes and Willis Halaholo all came in, while Rhys Carre was preferred to Rhys Gill at loosehead.

There was also a late change to the lineup as Matthew Morgan withdrew due to illness and Dan Fish slotted in at full-back.

Willis Halaholo Lyon
Willis Halaholo returned to the starting XV

A record was there to be broken on Saturday night as Cardiff Blues hadn’t lost in the Scottish capital since 2014, but Edinburgh were unbeaten at home in all competitions this season, and it was the second of those records that seemed to be set to continue thanks to two lucky bounces of the ball.

Inside the first 10 minutes a home lineout saw the ball tipped off the top and hit the ground, the Cardiff Blues defence rushed up but left a big gap for hooker Dave Cherry to break through after regathering possession and offload for Nathan Fowles after being brought down by Owen Lane.

Then 10 minutes later Fowles turned from scorer to provider as his fumble at the base of the breakdown saw the Cardiff Blues defence rush up once again, before the scrum-half recovered and ghosted through another big gap before finding Bill Mata on his shoulder. Jaco van der Walt converted twice for a 14-0 lead after 15 minutes.

Two lucky bounces yes, but also two sloppy pieces of defending from Cardiff Blues, took keen to sprint up as the ball went to ground and forgetting about the location of the ball.

Despite that early setback though, there was no panic within the ranks of the visitors, and we would actually go on to dominate both possession and territory for the remainder of the half.

One attack in particular looked promising, as Rhys Carre broke forwards before quickly recycled possession was nudged towards the corner by Willis Halaholo, but Dougie Fife just beat Aled Summerhill to touching down in the corner.

Bill Mata Edinburgh
Bill Mata slides over for the second Edinburgh try

Ultimately our attacking game was just too lateral and we gave up possession too easily in the opposition 22, but a strong game on the floor prevented Edinburgh causing us anymore problems in defence and the score stayed 14-0 at the break.

The second half began with Edinburgh pushing on a little more in our half of the field, and although they didn’t particularly threaten our try line, Cardiff Blues ill-discipline led to van der Walt having a simple penalty kick to extend the lead by three points.

However, that seemed to spark the away side into life, and within two minutes we had hit back to finally get on the scoreboard.

A fairly innocuous attacking phase saw Jarrod Evans spin the ball wide for Olly Robinson who found Jason Harries, on as a half-time substitute, busting forwards on his inside shoulder before sending Lloyd Williams over for his 30th Cardiff Blues try, putting him third on the post-2003 try scorers list.

Then, as the game crept into it’s final quarter, an Edinburgh mistake saw Nathan Fowles kick a clearance out on the full, giving us an attacking lineout just inside the opposition 22.

Lloyd Williams Edinburgh
Lloyd Williams gets Cardiff Blues on the scoreboard

Off the top the ball went through the hands of Evans and Willis Halaholo before Rey Lee-Lo cut through the defensive line and found Jason Harries on his shoulder, with the provider turning scorer on his return the club he joined Cardiff Blues from last summer.

Evans scored the first but missed the second conversion, and was almost back on the tee just a minute later when straight from the kick-off the away side switched the counter-attack to the right wing as Lee-Lo broke before releasing Aled Summerhill, but Lloyd Williams could not quite cling on to the pass back inside.

In the end it was with 10 minutes to go that Cardiff Blues finally took the lead from another well worked first phase play, after another Fowles mistake as he knocked on from a Lloyd Williams clearance.

From the scrum Owen Lane and Willis Halaholo stepped in at first and second receiver, allowing Jarrod Evans to drift wide and find Aled Summerhill hitting the line at speed from full-back before Jason Harries was on hand to run over his second try of the game in the corner.

Jason Harries Edinburgh
Jason Harries slides over for the winning try

Evans nailed the conversion to put us into the lead by two with eight minutes remaining, and after a 10 phase defensive set, it was fitting that top tackler Shane Lewis-Hughes secured the turnover that won the game for Cardiff Blues. An outstanding performance from the young flanker.

Yet another slow first half performance but credit to the players again for never giving up and showing off the quality we possess in attack during the second half to secure the all-important victory.

A dominant performance on the floor in defence and, crucially, a fully functioning lineout for the first time in months, gave us the platform to go and play, and the performances of Jason Harries and Aled Summerhill in the second half, as well as the continually majestic Rey Lee-Lo, saw us over the line.

Edinburgh’s first home defeat in any competition this season sees Cardiff Blues jump Ospreys and Connacht to sit third going into the final game of the Six Nations period, with Southern Kings to come to us next weekend.

Get down to the Arms Park on Saturday night to cheer on the boys to what will hopefully be a big victory to put us firmly in the driving seat to secure that last play-off place.

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