The Blues took a tentative step towards guaranteeing a spot in the Heineken Cup next season by downing fellow Welsh strugglers, the Scarlets, at the Arms Park yesterday.
The lowest-ranked Welsh region at the end of the Celtic League season faces a playoff to join the top table of European rugby next season, and five straight losses have made the mis-firing Scarlets early favourites to be trailing the pack in May.
Scarlets fly-half Gareth Bowen opened the scoring with an early close-range penalty goal, and it was 17 uninspiring minutes before the home team troubled the scorers, courtesy of a Lee Thomas goal.
The first try of the match broke the deadlock and it came through Scarlets fullback Barry Davies. Left winger Salesi Finau joined in on the right as the extra man and Davies had the pace to dive over in the corner. Bowen added a superb sideline conversion and the Blues miserable season was showing no signs of coming right.
Thomas narrowed the margin to one point with two quickfire goals, and Scarlets backrower Scott Quinnell's first half ended a few seconds early when he was sinbinned for an innocuous-looking challenge on opposite number Kort Schubert.
The absence of the British Lion didn't cost his side any points, but he was soon replaced in the sin-bin by teammate Ian Boobyer, whose swinging arm at a maul was spotted by referee Alain Rolland.
Thomas missed a long-range chance to give the Blues the lead, but just as Boobyer jogged back on to the field, a break from Blues centre Shaun James set up a great position for the home side and winger Dean Dewdney squeezed over in the corner for a crucial try.
To add to the Scarlets' woes, winger Salesi Finau knocked himself out trying to tackle Schubert with his head.
The Scarlets made a last-ditch effort to cancel out the four-point deficit, but a big hit from former Leicester winger Freddie Tuilagi drove visiting prop Jon Thiel out of bounds a metre from the try-line.
Try: D Dewdney
Pens: L Thomas 3
Try: B Davies
Pen: G Bowen
Con: G Bowen
Halftime: Scarlets 10-9