Cardiff Blues secured the unlikeliest of victories against Benetton in Treviso on Saturday, coming out as 28-31 victors thanks to a Jason Harries try at the death.
With a lengthy injury list as well as a number of players on international duty with Wales, securing a bonus point win against a full strength side was always going to be tough, but a remarkable performance from John Mulvihill’s men get us over the line.
Here’s some selected statistics from a fine afternoon’s work in Italy.
While Jason Harries took the plaudits for the winning try in the 81st minute, the architect of it was Rey Lee-Lo as the Samoan centre beat three defenders before drawing the last minute and completing a one-handed offload to send his winger over the line.
That capped off a fine individual performance from the 33-year-old as he stepped up in the first game of Willis Halaholo’s absence with nine carries for 60 metres, beating three defenders and making two clean breaks.
Adding in 10 tackles he used all his experience and led with his actions from the 13 channel. As pointed out by his mate Halaholo he is aging like a fine wine, and showing no signs of slowing down soon.
Discipline, discipline, discipline
There was some concern early in the season about the number of cards Cardiff Blues were picking up, with at least one yellow card being shown to one our players in each of the opening three games of the campaign.
However, out in Treviso where we had our backs to the wall for long periods, finishing with 46% possession and 41% territory, and having to attempt 174 tackles as the home side spent a number of attacking sets camped in our 22.
Despite that we only conceded seven penalties, and managed to turn Benetton over 11 times as, although we conceded four tries, the defence put in a committed 80 minutes shift to prevent the Italian side running away with the game and give us a chance to snatch victory at the death.
Signing of the summer
When it comes to stand out players through the season as a whole there haven’t been many contenders. Matthew Morgan has been impressive, Corey Domachowski was stand out before his injury and Liam Belcher has caught the eye around the field.
One man who is definitely in with a shout is Will Boyde though, as the former Scarlet has come into the Arms Park and impressed everyone with his hard work and versatility across the back row.
Starting at number eight and then switching to the openside against Benetton, the 24-year-old carried eight times for 43 metres, made 11 tackles and won a turnover on the floor as he led a defence that kept the hosts under pressure despite the amount of ball it had.
It’s too early to start handing out awards yet, but Boyde is definitely in the conversation for signing of the season so far, not just at Cardiff Blues, but in Welsh regional rugby generally.