Cardiff Blues bounced back from a disappointing loss away at Scarlets to beat the Ospreys at Rodney Parade on Sunday afternoon in the final game of the 2019/20 Guinness Pro14 season.
A much-changed side took the field and produced a performance a world away from that which we saw in Llanelli last week, with tries from Jason Harries and Josh Adams, as well as the boot of Jason Tovey, securing a 29-20 win.
I’ve had a look at some of the stats from Rodney Parade.
Piling on the pressure
The big change from week-to-week was how Cardiff Blues managed to control the game against Ospreys after spending almost the entire 80 minutes on the back foot against the Scarlets.
After making more handling errors, enjoying less possession and working on less territory in Llanelli, John Mulvihill’s men kept handling errors in the single figures this week, and worked with 50% possession and 56% territory.
Going for almost three metres per carry and kicking out of hand 32 times pinned the Ospreys in their own half, particularly in the early part of the second half when they might have fancied a comeback after scoring just before half-time. A well-managed game from Cardiff Blues.
The new flanker duo
There’s been some excellent flanker pairings at Cardiff Blues over the last few years; Ma’ama Molitika and Martyn Williams, Josh Turnbull and Sam Warburton, and Josh Navidi and Ellis Jenkins.
On Sunday though we saw what could be the next great duo appear as Shane Lewis-Hughes and James Botham were superb up against the experience of Olly Cracknell and Justin Tipuric on the other side.
Lewis-Hughes made five carries for 16 metres, with Botham making eight carries for 53 metres, while their 36 combined tackles, 19 for Lewis-Hughes and 17 for Botham, were the leaders across the park as they set the tone for Cardiff Blues on both sides of the ball.
Turning the corner
There were plenty of occasions before lockdown when the lineout misfired, often leaving us struggling to get any sort of platform to attack from. The most notable recent game seeing us lose six throws in 80 minutes against Connacht in February.
Over the last two weeks there’s been a noticeable change though, as Cardiff Blues won 14 of 15 lineouts away at Scarlets before going 100% from 11 from 11 and stealing one against the Ospreys.
The platform that provided led directly to the second try at Rodney Parade as Jason Harries’ kick through for Josh Adams came off first phase ball after a lineout on halfway.