It’s fair to say that Judgement Day has not been a universally popular introduction to the regional rugby calendar this decade, but in 2017 it was suddenly a big favourite among Cardiff Blues fans.
Up to this point in the 2010s there was only one win to show from fixtures against West Wales rivals Ospreys, that coming on New Year’s Eve 2010 when tries from Tom James and Richard Mustoe, as well as the boot of Dan Parks, secured a 27-25 victory at the Cardiff City Stadium.
The only players surviving from that Cardiff Blues 23 on this day in April 2017 were the starting props, Gethin Jenkins and Fa’ao Filise, while Bradley Davies was also involved but by this time was playing for the opposition after a spell at Wasps.
Going into the game both sides were struggling for form and batting to stay in contention for different things, as Ospreys were clinging on to a place in the play-off spots while Cardiff Blues had dreams of a top six finish and qualification for the Heineken Cup.
With an 11-game losing streak against the Swansea based side and a poor record at Judgement Day that had seen us win just one of four games at the Principality Stadium, Danny Wilson’s men managed to make a superb start to proceedings.
Barely five minutes had gone by before Kris Dacey was peeling off the back of a driving maul to dive over in the corner, and by the time 25 minutes were on the board the Cardiff Blues lead was 21-3 thanks to further close-range tries from Lloyd Williams and Nick Williams.
Then just three minutes into the second half the bonus point was secured when, five-and-a-half years after his last try, Fa’ao Filise powered over to score his ninth and final try in Cardiff Blues colours.
Heaven was reached shortly after when Gareth Anscombe beat Sam Davies to a Willis Halaholo kick through for a fifth try on the day, and although Dan Evans and Paul James grabbed consolation tries a 35-17 final score was more than deserved for one of the best performances of the decade.
Wins over Zebre and Dragons in the final two games of the season managed to get Cardiff Blues to a Heineken Cup play-off place but an injury hit side could not get past Stade Francais in Paris. This would of course be a blessing in disguise as we went on to win the Challenge Cup the following season.