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Cardiff Blues maintain Champions Cup qualification hopes with win at Scarlets

Gareth Anscombe claimed 18 points as Cardiff Blues kept up their Champions Cup qualification hopes with a famous 28-22 Guinness Pro12 derby victory at Parc y Scarlets.

But in contrast the Scarlets' Pro12 play-off hopes suffered a setback despite sealing a losing bonus point and clinging on to third place.

The Blues were rewarded for their attacking intent with tries for scrum-half Lloyd Williams, wing Tom James and fly-half Anscombe, who also kicked three penalties and two conversions.

Scarlets were boosted by the return of Wales prop Samson Lee - the only change to the team which won at the Ospreys - but they were a pale shadow of that performance.

Scarlets finished strongly with a try from John Barclay to go with five penalties from Dan Jones (four) and Aled Thomas, who also added a conversion. But it was too little too late.

The Blues, who made two changes from the victory over Treviso with Tuafa'ao Filise and Matthew Rees coming into the front row, deserved their 18-9 first-half lead.

Scarlets found themselves on the back foot in the opening exchanges that saw Anscombe convert a ninth-minute penalty in front of the posts from a ruck offence.

Two minutes later the Blues were 10-0 up after a knock-on by Ken Owens saw the visitors go on a concerted attack which resulted in Williams going over after exploiting a huge gap in the home defence. Anscombe added the extras.

Scarlets stopped the rot with two Jones penalties on 15 and 18 minutes but the Blues were back on the try trail, making the most of a loose kick with James going over in the left corner from a searching pass from Ray Lee-Lo. But Anscombe missed the conversion as Blues led 15-6 on 23 minutes.

Jones and Anscombe swapped penalties before the interval but Cardiff's impressive attacking approach had the better of Scarlets during the first 40 minutes.

Scarlets were give a boost with a Jones penalty seven minutes into the second half. But after Anscombe and Thomas swapped penalties the Blues stepped up their dominance again.

They snuffed out a sterile Scarlets attack and then immediately scored when James skipped out of a tackle to send Anscombe over for the Blues' third try. Anscombe also converted as Blues led 28-15 on 63 minutes.

But Scarlets replied with a try of their own to cut the Blues' lead to six points when the home side won a scrum against the head on the visitors' line and Barclay crashed over for Thomas to convert.

There was another setback for the Blues who finished the game with Josh Turnbull in the sin bin, but the Cardiff outfit managed to hold out for a deserved first win in Llanelli for six years.


From Belfast Telegraph