Cardiff Blues maintained their dream start to the Guinness PRO12 season as they edged a thriller against Glasgow Warriors 23-19 at the BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park.
First-half tries from Alex Cuthbert and Rey Lee-Lo got them on their way, and despite huge pressure from the Warriors, who scored three tries of their own through Stuart Hogg, Peter Horne and Ali Price, Danny Wilson’s men held on.
The win allows the Blues to maintain a start which has seen them beat Edinburgh and Munster already, and they carried that form into this clash with a blistering opening in the Welsh capital.
Lee-Lo is a key carrier in their midfield and it was on one such burst that the Blues took the lead, with Gordon Reid penalised for not rolling away and Gareth Anscombe slotting three points after just two minutes.
Glasgow, meanwhile, had in-form Tommy Seymour struggling with a knock early after a big tackle from Lee-Lo, and Cardiff had soon doubled their lead.
Again it came from Warriors indiscipline at the breakdown, Ryan Wilson pinged after a prolonged spell of pressure.
Then on 25 minutes the try finally came, with Cuthbert getting his first of the season. After a few charges from the forwards, the home team spread the ball and Anscombe’s pass in behind Lee-Lo sent Cuthbert straight through for the easy finish.
With Anscombe’s conversion the lead was 13-0 and Glasgow looked to be in real trouble, but they hit back immediately.
They had barely been in Cardiff territory, but when they got the opportunity, they pounced with Hogg getting on the end of an inside ball after some quick hands in the Warriors backline.
Rory Clegg converted and Glasgow should have taken the lead five minutes later when they worked a massive overlap, but Hogg’s wide pass was dropped by Wilson and the home side got away with it.
It was only a temporary respite for the Blues though, with the visitors pouncing on an error from Josh Navidi. As the No.8 carried from the base of the scrum he knocked it on allowing Clegg to regain possession. The ball was shifted to Horne, who showed his power to get over, wriggling out of one tackle before crossing. Clegg converted to give Glasgow the lead for the first time.
However right on the stroke of half-time, the home side got back in front thanks to some quick-thinking from Anscombe.
Seemingly about to kick the ball out for a penalty, he instead tapped and went and put Tom James away. A few phases later and it was Lee-Lo who crossed after good work by Navidi to feed him. Anscombe nailed the conversion to make it 20-14 at the break.
Cardiff started the second half well, with a searing break from James, but the Glasgow defence got back in time to avert the danger.
And it was the visitors who got back to within a point on 50 minutes. Lee Jones got away down the wing and after the ball was recycled quickly, Price decided to go himself and wormed his way past Nick Williams and over. Clegg couldn’t convert so Glasgow still trailed by one.
Cardiff could have killed off the game when Steven Shingler sliced through, but he couldn’t find his support with just one man to beat.
They did however stretch the lead to four points with a penalty from Shingler, Josh Turnbull having been taken out at a lineout.
And although Glasgow reclaimed the ball from the restart, they couldn’t find a way through and the Blues hung on.
Guinness PRO12 Final 2017 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 adults and €5 child, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie. For further information visit http://www.pro12rugby.com/final