Both Ospreys and Cardiff Blues had suffered frustrating defeats to Aviva Premiership Rugby opposition in the opening round of the Anglo-Welsh Cup but they served up a second-half treat at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park one week on.
The Ospreys may have ultimately emerged as 26-16 victors but both sides had their moments as an intense Welsh rivalry left the confines of the PRO14 and played out on a different stage.
A compelling first half somehow ended scoreless but it took Reuben Morgan-Williams just five minutes to rectify that after the interval.
The duelling boots of Steve Shingler and Sam Davies kept the scoreboard ticking along until Rhys Williams all but wrapped up the win ten minutes from time.
Harri Millard appeared to have snatched a losing bonus point for the hosts when he dotted down late on but there was just time for a final Davies penalty to seal a ten-point triumph as Ospreys kept their hopes of progressing from Pool 4 alive.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Reuben Morgan-Williams impressed for the second week in a row and this time his efforts were rewarded with a victory.
The scrum-half couldn’t stop Wasps emerging from the Liberty Stadium with a 36-12 victory last time out but pulling the strings from No.9 once again, he will have given head coach Steve Tandy food for thought when it comes to PRO14 selection.
The Wales Under-20 international got the opening try of the match early in the second half, producing two gorgeous sidesteps in the process, and generally showed a maturity belying his 19 years.
TRY OF THE MATCH
The try of the match, as much for its importance in sealing the victory as anything else, was Rhys Williams’ score ten minutes from time.
The Blues turned the ball over at midfield and Will Jones powered his way through the defensive line before finding Williams, who slid over the whitewash – evading the overtures of the covering Sion Bennett in the process.
That score, coupled with the subsequent Sam Davies conversion, gave Ospreys an insurmountable 20-9 advantage that they eventually turned into a maiden victory in this year’s Anglo-Welsh Cup.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
James Hook may now be 32 years old but the former Wales and British & Irish Lions full-back can still conjure up those little pieces of magic that change a game.
After a scoreless first half, Hook collected a loose Rhun Williams kick and expertly chipped over the onrushing Blues defensive line.
The ball sat up perfectly for Luke Price and after slinging it through the hands, scrum-half Reuben Morgan-Williams scooted away for the game’s opening try – a lead the Ospreys would never surrender.
WHAT THEY SAID
Cardiff Blues coach Richard Hodges said: “I was a very stop-start game but that wasn’t the be-all and end-all.
“We came into half-time with 67 per cent possession and 70 per cent territory but we just weren’t able to break down a very resolute and strong Ospreys defence.
“We set the tone with a few upright carries early on but then got ourselves turned over. Having said that we got ourselves in a much stronger position in the first half than we did last week [a 57-0 loss to Newcastle Falcons] but unfortunately it has gone from a no-point first half to a 42-point second half.
“Whilst you don’t get your wins on the scoreboard, which is hugely disappointing, we’ve had more boys come into this tournament making their debuts and hopefully they’ve got a long, successful future in a Blues shirt.”
SOCIAL MEDIA REACTION
15 minutes till kick off! Changing rooms all set ready for the boys! pic.twitter.com/PKxet5W9u1
— Ospreys (@ospreys) November 17, 2017
The highlights of a scoreless first half pic.twitter.com/rfF0bzzIDn
— Cardiff Blues (@cardiff_blues) November 17, 2017
With the last kick of the game, Sam Davies slots the penalty to seal the victory for the Ospreys! Final Score – Cardiff Blues 16-26 Ospreys pic.twitter.com/aawjzZZie0
— Ospreys (@ospreys) November 17, 2017
— Huw Warren (@HuwWarren9) November 17, 2017