An impressive Cardiff Blues defensive performance was the backbone of their comprehensive bonus point victory over injury-hit Scarlets in the Guinness PRO14 derby at Parc-y-Scarlets.
Tries from Lloyd Williams, Ray Lee-Lo (2) and Gareth Anscombe, who supplied a total of 19 points, condemned the Scarlets to a 34-5 defeat - their fifth in a row and their second against Welsh opposition.
It ended a 26-match winning run at home for the Scarlets, who could only score one try through Jonny McNicholl despite having a wealth of possession and territory - especially in the first half.
Leigh Halfpenny was withdrawn from the Scarlets team because of continued concerns over his health after suffering concussion for Wales against Australia on November 10.
McNicholl switched to full-back, with Australian Paul Asquith coming in at right wing and fly-half Rhys Patchell on a lengthening Scarlets injury list.
The visitors made three personnel changes from the side that beat the Dragons, with scrum-half Williams replacing Tomas Williams, prop Brad Thyer coming in for the injured Rhys Gill and second-row George Earle replacing flanker Olly Robinson.
Scarlets enjoyed territorial dominance in the first half but trailed 10-5 at half time.
VIDEO | "If you want to run straight at a Cardiff Blues player, they’ll accommodate you with a shoulder and that’s what happened tonight." John Mulvihill applauds his side's heroic defensive effort in tonight's bonus point win at Parc y Scarlets. pic.twitter.com/LeNCcxdHvS— Cardiff Blues (@cardiff_blues) December 29, 2018
Blues took advantage of the home side being penalised twice at mauls. From the second Anscombe kicked the opening three points of the match.
Two minutes later Blues had extended their lead to 10-0 through a controversial try scored by Williams after a break by Lee-Lo and good link work from wing Blaine Scully.
It looked as though Scully had a knee in touch before delivering the scoring pass but TMO Ian Davies adjudged the wing's knee was in the air. Anscombe converted from the touchline.
Within a minute Scarlets had scored a try of their own, created by a pass from number eight Will Boyde that saw McNicholl race in from 30 metres out. Tom Prydie was wide with the touchline conversion attempt.
That score sparked Scarlets into life and they twice went on concerted attacks - one including 24 phases and another of 17 phases - but Blues' impressive defence kept the home side out.
The visitors' defensive standards continued after the break as Scarlets, who lost both back-rowers James Davies and Boyde to injuries, lacked a cutting edge in attack.
And Blues showed their opponents how to get to the try line with the first score of the half on 62 minutes. From a scrum Willis Halaholo put his fellow centre Lee-Lo on a run to the line for Anscombe's conversion to stretch the visitors' lead to 12 points.
That advantage became 15 with a 71st minute penalty for Anscombe - and Blues' dominance was complete when Lee-Lo went over for his second try after picking off a pass from Hadleigh Parkes.
Two minutes later the bonus point was registered with another interception try for Anscombe, who ran in after taking a Dan Jones pass. Anscombe converted both late scores.