Cardiff mount second-half fightback to triumph 21-17 at Edinburgh
Edinburgh's bid for a top-six finish and a place in next season's European Champions Cup ended in disappointment as Cardiff staged an impressive second-half fightback to finish a below-par Guinness PRO12 campaign with a deserved 21-17 win.
Tries by Hamish Watson, Matt Scott, Tom Brown plus a conversion by Jason Tovey steered the hosts to a 17-7 interval advantage.
But the Blues bossed the second half and added tries by Cam Dolan and Garyn Smith to a first-half score from Rey Lee-Lo, while Gareth Anscombe landed all three conversions.
Edinburgh suffered a blow before kick-off when Ross Ford strained a calf muscle in the warm-up and was replaced by Stuart McInally. The home team shrugged off that setback to start the game well, though, applying sustained pressure to the Cardiff defence.
Prop Rory Sutherland displayed an impressive turn of pace to break through and looked to be heading for the line when a tap tackle by Gethin Jenkins halted his progress. Jason Tovey crossed the whitewash from the subsequent play, but the ball had gone forward.
The visitors enjoyed a brief foray into home territory, but Edinburgh soon regained the upper hand. And their pressure finally paid off on 16 minutes. Tovey booted a penalty into touch deep inside the Cardiff 22 and the ensuing lineout created the platform for a series of phases which ended with Cornell Du Preez flipping a deft pass to Watson, who dotted down in the corner.
Tovey struck the post with his conversion attempt, but he was on target four minutes later, adding the extras after Edinburgh bagged their second try. That score came after an incisive run by Damien Hoyland, who was halted 10 metres short of the line. Scott was quickest to react, picking up and powering over for a try in his farewell appearance before joining Gloucester.
The visitors rallied from that setback and cut the deficit on 31 minutes. Anscombe despatched a penalty into touch and, after a series of drives stretched the Edinburgh defence, Lee-Lo slalomed past three tacklers to touch down. Anscombe's conversion left Cardiff five points adrift.
By half-time the gap was back to double figures after Edinburgh claimed their third try. Scott clipped the ball past the advancing defenders and raced through but was beaten to the touchdown by Brown, whose score left Edinburgh 17-7 ahead after Tovey's conversion again struck the upright.
Cardiff were transformed after the restart and Edinburgh's pursuit of a four-try bonus was set aside as the home side's focus switched to defensive chores. A try-saving tackle by Tom Brown kept the margin at 10 points and Hoyland had to look sharp to win the race to a chip ahead by Anscombe.
However, the relentless Cardiff pressure finally brought rewards in the 63rd minute, when neat interplay allowed Dolan to crash through a tackle and plunge over the line. Anscombe's conversion reduced the arrears to three points.
And the visitors deservedly took the lead three minutes later when Dan Fish waltzed through two tackles and passed inside to Smith, who touched down, with Anscombe again converting.
Edinburgh belatedly paid a visit to opposition territory and mounted a last-ditch assault on the visitors' line, but the Cardiff defence held firm to clinch the victory.