Cardiff Blues romped to a bonus point 35-17 win over the Ospreys at Principality Stadium on Judgement Day leaving Steve Tandy’s men with it all to do to reach the Guinness PRO12 play-offs.
In the first of two matches in the Welsh capital, Cardiff were in inspired form, running in five tries to hand the Ospreys their first-ever defeat on Judgement Day.
Having lost three straight games in all competitions, including heartbreaking defeats to Stade Français in Europe and then Leinster last weekend, the Ospreys needed a response against their regional rivals.
Instead it was the Blues who dominated proceedings in the opening half at Principality Stadium, racing into a 21-3 half-time lead.
Kristian Dacey got the ball rolling just six minutes in, and while Sam Davies got the Ospreys on the board with a penalty, further tries from two Williams, Lloyd then Nick, put Cardiff in complete control.
Blues’ dominance continued at the start of the second half as Tau Filise secured their bonus point with a fourth try from close range before Gareth Anscombe ran in number five as things unraveled for the Ospreys.
The Ospreys mounted something of a late fightback with tries from Dan Evans and Paul James but it was too little too late on a tough afternoon.
The Blues gave notice of their intentions from the opening minutes, with Rhun Williams breaking down the left only for a loose pass to put paid to that opportunity.
They didn’t have to wait long for the first try though, Dacey spotting a lack of blindside cover off a maul and peeling off to go over unopposed.
Davies cut the deficit to four with a penalty after Cardiff failed to roll away at a breakdown but that good work was undone immediately.
A knock-on from the restart got Cardiff back on the front foot and after an initial charge from Alex Cuthbert, Lloyd Williams was able to snipe over.
Anscombe converted again and soon after he was almost in for a try, just held up by Rhys Webb. It was only temporary respite for the Ospreys though as Nick Williams proved unstoppable from close range at the resulting scrum.
Trailing 21-3 the Ospreys needed a spark and they were given a lifeline when Cuthbert was sin-binned for taking out Evans in the air just before the half-hour.
That led to a long period of Ospreys possession but they could not do anything with it and the Blues survived until half-time.
Any hopes of an Ospreys comeback were then killed off at the start of the second half with Filise crashing over from close range after Cuthbert’s initial burst.
Two minutes later and they were in again, Willis Halaholo’s little grubber through bouncing up and Anscombe getting the better of Wales fly-half rival Davies to collect and stroll over. His conversion made it a scarcely believable 35-3 with Cardiff in dreamland.
On the hour the Ospreys finally got their first try, Evans crossing after some great hands from forwards and backs while Anscombe was sin-binned for going offside in the build-up. Davies converted with a drop kick as the Ospreys tried to mount an unlikely comeback.
They followed that up with a score from James, again from close range and again converted quickly by Davies to cut the deficit to make it 35-17 but that was as good as it got for them.
With games against their play-off rivals Ulster and Scarlets to close out the season, the Ospreys still have their destiny in their own hands. But following this loss they have two weeks to find their form or risk missing out on the top four altogether.
The Guinness PRO12 Final takes place on May 27 at Aviva Stadium, Dublin.
Fans can guarantee their place by booking their tickets via www.ticketmaster.ie
Further information: www.pro12rugby.com/final