The Ospreys came out on top in an entertaining ‘A’ team fixture at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Monday evening.
There were tries for Tom Grabham, Hanno Dirksen and Calum Davies, as well as a penalty try, with Luke Price converting two of the touchdowns.
The sides were welcomed onto the field by heavy rain and wind but, fortunately, the downpour eased within minutes of the kick-off.
With both teams playing the first games together, it was understandable that the early exchanges were all about feeling their way into the contest.
It was the Blues who opened the scoring 10 minutes in, through the boot of Will Thomas. The Ospreys were penalised at the ruck in front of the posts after scrambling to cover following a break up the right by Harry Davies, the winger hacking the loose ball forward from halfway and gathering in his stride before being caught by Grabham.
Clever running from Price almost created the first opening for the visitors, the outside half linking well with Aled Jenkins, but the Blues defence was able to close the gap as the Swansea centre looked to find a way through.
At the other end, Thomas was off target with a straightforward looking penalty after another Ospreys offence on the ground, before Price also missed the target at the other end after a penalty for side entry.
Some strong running from the Blues took them into the danger zone and, with an overlap on the outside, Garyn Smith ignored Harry Davies and a seemingly certain score to cut infield and go for the line himself.
He found his progress blocked and he belatedly moved the ball on to his winger, where a try looked the only possible outcome, only for Dirksen to hit his man back in contact on the line, forcing a knock-on. From the resulting scrum, Ifereimi Boladau picked up at the back and drove through two Blues players, giving Price room and time to clear.
With half time approaching the Ospreys grabbed the lead with the first try of the match. They had been pressing the line, stretching the Blues defence with a series of close range snipes but when the ball went loose it was hacked clear, back over halfway.
However, Richard Fussell was back to cover, showing good skills to pick the ball up under pressure before moving it to launch another attack. It was worked out to the right wing where Grabham took the final pass close to the touchline and pinned his ears back to cross. Price’s touchline conversion was off target, meaning the Ospreys led by just two points going in at the break.
HALF-TIME: CARDIFF BLUES A 3 OSPREYS A 5
The Ospreys began the second half as they ended the first, on the offensive, with strong running from Fussell, Dirksen and Aisea Natoga, taking them up into the opposition 22. Close to the line, they probed patiently going through the phases looking for an opening, only for Matthew Dwyer to knock on in the tackle five metres out.
They were able to keep the pressure up on the hosts though, running the ball back at their opponents with Aled Jenkins and Dan Suter both gaining ground. When it was spun out to the left Jenkins was involved again, stepping his defender before offloading to Dirksen who went over for the second try of the night, which like the first, went unconverted.
The Blues hit straight back, opting to go to the corner instead of taking a shot at the posts, and from 5m out their pack drove straight over the line, James Sheekey dabbing down. The third try of the contest was the third to go unconverted, Thomas pulling his kick to the left of the posts.
After Calum Davies and Jenkins, again, had made some good ground for the Ospreys, the visitors were awarded a penalty close to the line, from which they opted for a scrum.
Three times the packs went down, three times the result was penalty Ospreys, before referee Rhys Thomas eventually ran under the posts to signal a penalty try. Price added the extras to take the score to 17-8 with 20 minutes still to play.
With the Ospreys on top, the fourth try came in the 69th minute, and again it came via the scrum. This time, the pack drove their opponents towards their own line, Calum Davies picking up at the back to force his way over and score. Price’s conversion from the touchline struck the right post before falling the right away between the sticks.
The clock was ticking down but the Blues weren’t going to throw the towel in and they grabbed the next score, a try that wouldn’t have pleased the Ospreys coaches as Will Baird picked the ball up at the back of the scrum and was able to drift through a hole as wide as the Cheddar Gorge to go over unopposed for the simplest of scores. James Whittingham converted.
With time just about up the Ospreys looked to round off the evening with a final score, but both Natoga and Matthew Dwyer were unable to take the scoring pass under pressure, meaning there was no further change to the scoring.