Down 0-17 after 27 minutes, the Sharks were with their backs against the wall for most of the match and although they kept on pressing hard, they ran out of time in the end and had to be content with leaving the Welsh capital with a solitary losing bonus point.
Both of Cardiff’s tries, by Matthew Morgan and Willis Halaholo, were soft five-pointers and basically down to defensive mistakes by the KwaZulu-Natalians.
In fact, the Sharks were left ruing a less than satisfactory defensive display, succeeding with only 88% of their tackles, while the hosts made 96% of theirs.
The visitors’ discipline was better than that of their host, but the Sharks missed a number of kicks at goal which could have had an influence on the final score.
On the contrary, Rhys Priestland was on song and kicked 13 points to help steer his side to victory after they lost to the Vodacom Bulls last weekend.
Springbok prop Thomas du Toit scored a first-half try to keep the visitors in touch on the score-board and when Marnus Potgieter’s late try was converted, Cardiff led by 20-17, but Priestland gave them a bit of breathing space with his third penalty goal soon thereafter.
For the Cell C Sharks – who “won” the second half in Cardiff by 7-6 – it was a disappointing end to their inaugural Vodacom United Rugby Championship tour, especially after last weekend’s great win over the Ospreys, down the road in Swansea.
Cardiff 23 (17) – Tries: Matthew Morgan, Willis Halaholo. Conversions: Rhys Priestland (2). Penalty goals: Priestland (3).
Cell C Sharks 17 (10) – Tries: Thomas du Toit, Marnus Potgieter. Conversions: Curwin Bosch, Boeta Chamberlain. Penalty goal: Chamberlain.