Pro14: Cardiff Blues 26-19 Southern Kings
|Guinness Pro14: Cardiff Blues v Southern Kings|
|Cardiff Blues (7) 26|
|Tries: Lane, Williams, Robinson, Harries Conversions: Evans (2)|
|Southern Kings (7) 19|
|Tries: van Schalkwyk, Willemse, Banda Conversions: B Pretorius, Banda|
Cardiff Blues survived a scare to keep their Pro14 play-off hopes alive with a bonus point win over Southern Kings.
Owen Lane scored off the Blues' first touch, but it was the Kings who took a deserved lead through Dries van Schalkwyk and Michael Willemse.
Blues fought back with tries from captain Nick Williams, Olly Robinson and Jason Harries.
Masixole Banda's late effort earned his side a losing bonus point.
Blues are now level on points with third-place Connacht in Conference A, while Kings leapfrogged Dragons into sixth in Conference B.
In soggy conditions Kings started the game with intent, but a poorly executed grubber kick landed straight into the grateful hands of Lane who showed defenders a clean pair of heels sprinting down the touchline.
Jarred Evans, one of three players released from Wales' Six Nations squad, added the extras.
From there it looked as if the Blues would push on, but they never really threatened in a half filled with basic errors at the set piece and ill discipline.
Kings, who have never won away in the Pro14, made huge gains with a fast-moving driving maul on the half hour mark, with Blues captain Nick Williams shown a yellow card for side entry.
They were lucky not to lose prop Scott Andrews for the same offence moments later, and Kings spent 10 minutes camped on the Blues touchline with second row van Schalkwyk finally crossing after 18 phases.
Bader Pretorius added the conversion to tie the scores 7-7 at the break.
Kings began the second half in similar fashion and spurred on by the success of their driving maul turned down two kickable penalties to kick for touch, and from a resulting lineout propelled hooker Willemse over for a well-deserved lead.
The introduction of Wales scrum-half Tomos Williams, along with fellow international Seb Davies, injected some much-needed zip into the Blues attack, with number eight Williams powering over after some good work from centre Willis Halaholo to level the scores.
Blues, now on the ascendency, were boosted further with the arrival of Matthew Morgan who danced his way past three players to set up a try for man of the match Olly Robinson who began the move with a clever pass through his legs.
A score ahead, Blues went on the hunt for a much needed bonus point for their play-off hopes and were helped in their quest when Kings centre Tertius Kruger was shown yellow for a tip tackle on Corey Domachowski.
The fact the Blues' replacement landed on his back ultimately stopped referee Joy Neville from reaching for a red card.
Blues took advantage of the extra man with wing Jason Harries latching onto a missed pass from Williams to cross in the corner in what was his first appearance at the Arms Park since November.
Evans landed the difficult conversion in poor kicking conditions.
Kings, to their credit, were competitive until the end and won the restart to go on one final attack, with substitute Masixole Banda crossing for their third try of the match.
And in what would be the final kick of the game, Banda converted his own effort to earn his side a losing bonus point.
Cardiff Blues: Aled Summerhill; Owen Lane, Harri Millard, Willis Halaholo, Jason Harries; Jarrod Evans, Lloyd Williams: Brad Thyer, Liam Belcher, Scott Andrews, George Earle, Macauley Cook, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Olly Robinson, Nick Williams (capt).
Replacements: Ethan Lewis, Corey Domachowski, Keiron Assiratti, Rory Thornton, Seb Davies, Tomos Williams, Garyn Smith, Matthew Morgan.
Southern Kings: Ulrich Beyers; Yaw Penxe, Meli Rokoua, Tertius Kruger, Bjorn Basson; Bader Pretorius, Sarel Pretorius: Alulotho Tshakweni, Michael Willemse, De-Jay Terblanche, John-Charles Astle (capt), Henry Brown, Martinus Burger, Andisa Ntsila.
Replacements: Alandre van Rooyen, Schalk Ferreira, Lupumlo Mguca, Stephan Greef, Stephan De Wit, Rudi van Rooyen, Nerton Lassen, Masixole Banda.
Referee: Joy Neville (IRFU)
Assistant referees: Dan Jones (WRU), Mark Patton (IRFU)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (IRFU)