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Christmas came early for regional rugby supporters across Wales this weekend with Cardiff Blues dazzling against Scarlets in a tasty Welsh derby, while Newport Gwent Dragons plus Ospreys also claimed great home wins.

The first festive Welsh derby of the season at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park was a cracker and a stand out performance from Josh Navidi helped give Blues a vital home win.

Ospreys produced a fantastic win against Ulster on Saturday that puts them back on top of the Guinness PRO12 table, while Newport Gwent Dragons also claimed a home win against Zebre to move above the Italians in the league.

Cardiff Blues 21 – Scarlets 9

Cardiff Blues sparkled during a fine Welsh derby win against Scarlets in front of a large crowd of nearly 9,500 passionate and vocal regional supporters at BT Sports Cardiff Arms Park on Friday.

The region’s supporters turned up in high spirits and the start to the festive Welsh derbies began with a bang – Blues produced a first half blitz to score two tries and build an unassailable lead in a commanding display as they claimed a well-needed win.

Blues dominated the opening 40 minutes, pilling the pressure on Scarlets and scoring two first half tries through Josh Navidi, who twice showed great strength to drive over from close range after good work from the Blues forwards close to the Scarlets try line. The back row forward also claimed yet another man of the match prize for an excellent all round showing at number eight.

Scarlets fought back hard in the second half but were unable to finish a string of try scoring opportunities after good work in the Blues half and had to settle for three Rhys Priestland penalties to show for their efforts on a frustrating night for them.

Scarlets now have the chance to bounce straight back when they face Ospreys next week in the first of their seasonal back-to-back derbies, while Blues will now seek to build a run of wins in the Guinness PRO12 with victories in their derby double-headers against Newport Gwent Dragons.

Newport Gwent Dragons

The men of Gwent recorded a third straight win in all competitions with a comfortable 25 – 11 victory over Zebre in Newport yesterday that moves them above the visitors in the Guinness PRO12 league table.

The Dragons were on top from the start against their Italian opponents and took an early lead from a Tom Prydie penalty after good pressure in their opponent’s half.

Ross Wardle finished off an excellent Dragons attack on 23 mins, as first Lewis Evans then Tom Prydie made strong breaks up-field before the centre finished well from close range after the move looked like it may have ended just short of the Zebre try line.

As Zebre continued to struggle defending against the waves of home attacks they picked up two yellow cards. This was the key period for the Dragons as they capitalised on their superior numbers by scoring two well worked tries with first Hal Amos then captain Rynard Landman touching down in the corner to grab the key scores.

A special mention goes to Dragons flanker Nic Cudd, who passed the 100 tackles mark in the Guinness PRO12 this season – an excellent achievement that highlights the true grit that the region is renowned for.

After this solid win and their promising recent form Dragons will take great confidence into their festive local derbies against Cardiff Blues, looking to continue their good run and keep climbing up the table.

Ospreys

The Ospreys surged back to the top of the tree in the Guinness PRO12 with a stylish 31 – 20 bonus point win against Ulster at Liberty Stadium on Saturday.

Ospreys half backs Rhys Webb and Dan Bigger were again outstanding for their region, with the pair each grabbing key scores as they shone in what was probably Ospreys’ most complete performance so far this season.

Ospreys ran their esteemed opponents off the pitch and go into Christmas top of the league thanks to wonderful cohesion between forward and backs combined with a pace and intensity the Ulsterman couldn’t cope with.

All together Ospreys scored four tries, with two for Webb and one for his fellow man of the moment Biggar, while Hanno Dirksen also crossed the whitewash for the home team.

After this return to winning ways Ospreys will look licking their lips at the prospect of giving their supporters more to cheer about when they kick off the first of their two festive derbies against Scarlets at Liberty Stadium on Saturday.

 

See below for details of the remaining Welsh festive derbies and for links to get your tickets to come along and help Celebrate Our Game:

Cardiff Blues v Newport Gwent Dragons, BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park, Friday 26th December, 2.05pm kick off.

Ospreys V Scarlets, Liberty Stadium, Saturday 27th December, 5.15pm kick off.

Newport Gwent Dragons v Cardiff Blues, Rodney Parade, Thursday 1st January, 2.05pm kick off.

Scarlets v Ospreys, Parc Y Scarlets, Saturday 3rd January, 5.05pm kick off.

Ospreys v Newport Gwent Dragons, Liberty Stadium, Sunday 11th January, 4pm kick off.

 

Cardiff Blues tickets: https://www.eticketing.co.uk/cardiffblues/default.aspx

Newport Gwent Dragons tickets: http://www.newportgwentdragons.com/Tickets

Ospreys tickets: https://www.eticketing.co.uk/ospreysrugby/default.aspx

Scarlets tickets: http://www.scarlets.co.uk/eng/fans/tickets/index.php