Wales hopefuls complete Judgement Day auditions

It was fair to say the reaction to the Judgement Day switch from Principality Stadium to the Cardiff City Stadium was mixed.

The fact Ospreys reached the play-offs with victory against Cardiff in the second game of Welsh rugby's annual double-header did at least add drama and jeopardy to the day.

The backdrop for both games was a half-empty stadium, with the crowd announced at just over 20,000 that attended during the day.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland was one of those, as players looked to stake their claims for a place in his summer squad for matches against South Africa and Australia.

Gatland saw Cardiff lock Seb Davies sent off for a dangerous no-arms tackle and Dragons number eight Aaron Wainwright limp off with a dead leg, while young wing hopefuls Tomi Lewis and Theo Cabango were also injury victims.

With locks and wings among his main fitness concerns, Gatland will name his squad on Monday with a few players providing a final reminder they may deserve a recall or a call-up.

Super Smith at the double

Ospreys prop Nicky Smith is obviously not ready to leave his home region just yet.

Smith is joining Leicester next season and this would have been his last game if Ospreys had not reached the play-offs.

His two-try haul earned him the player-of-the-match accolade and helped set up a trip to Munster next Friday.

Ospreys captain Justin Tipuric described his front five as "awesome" and Smith was the heartbeat of that.

Smith is 30, has played 46 internationals and been involved in two World Cups, so it might be assumed on such a basis that he is an established Wales performer.

But he has never entirely convinced the Wales coaching team and was left out of the Six Nations squad in favour of fellow loose-heads Gareth Thomas, Corey Domachowski and Kemsley Mathias, who also scored on Judgement Day for Scarlets.

The Ospreys fans appreciate one of their own, though, and they will have another chance to see Smith in action next weekend in Limerick.

They will again hope that is not for the final time.

Thomas takes centre stage

Cardiff centre Ben Thomas, who has also switched to fly-half in recent weeks, has been one of the form midfield men in Welsh rugby this season.

He is a footballing inside centre who offers something different to the more direct offerings of Scarlets duo Eddie James and Johnny Williams and Ospreys centre Keiran Williams, who also all impressed on Judgement Day.

Thomas, 25, is arguably the most effective centre passer in Welsh rugby and demonstrated that with a smart offload to Gabriel Hamer-Webb for the wing's try.

"I thought Ben was excellent again and I am pleased for him," said Cardiff head coach Matt Sherratt.

"He has had some ups and downs over the last couple of years but he is turning into a right player now.

"He has been very consistent and captained the team. He just gets rugby and talks a lot of sense and his performances have been good."

Lloyd coming of age

Cardiff hooker Evan Lloyd was a surprise selection in the Six Nations squad having not started a senior game for his region.

Lloyd was effectively replacing the injured Dewi Lake and sat on the sidelines for the first four games as Elliot Dee and Ryan Elias battled it out.

The 22-year-old was given his chance against Italy as a replacement when Lloyd won his first cap and has since started for Cardiff.

He was handed his Judgement Day start following an injury to Liam Belcher and enjoyed a good battle with the returning Lake, who is set to be back in the Wales fold this summer.

"Evan was excellent," said Sherratt.

"He has great feet and got really good pace on an edge, the set-piece was good and it was a great match-up with Dewi."

With Dee coming back from an ankle injury and Wales weighing up whether to take Elias on tour because of his demanding exploits of the last year, Lloyd will be in the Wales selection equation once more.

It is no secret Wales are looking for fly-halves. Scarlets duo Sam Costelow and Ioan Lloyd were the Six Nations choices, and both were in action and contributed to the Judgement Day win against Dragons.

With Gareth Anscombe making himself unavailable for the summer programme as he recovers from a groin injury, Wales need more 10s and Ospreys youngster Dan Edwards stood up on Saturday.

The 21-year-old helped orchestrate the victory over Cardiff alongside half-back partner Reuben Morgan-Williams, who will have his own international ambitions.

"Dan has been fantastic," said Ospreys head coach Toby Booth.

"I knew he had the attributes from seeing him earlier in the season. He's not the finished article, he still needs to learn, but he's got the right attitude.

"He is a young player and the more he is in that position as the quarter-back, the better it will be for him.

"He has the talent and pace but what I also love about Dan is he has the personality for the role.

"That bodes well for his future."

Six of the best for Plumtree power

There was a sense Judgement Day was just a rubber-stamping exercise for Scarlets flanker Taine Plumtree to book his place in Wales' summer plans after missing the World Cup and Six Nations through injury.

The 24-year-old produced a commanding display against Dragons and demonstrated the credentials Gatland is looking for in a big number six.

"The game now is about people who can carry the ball, get gain line and make things happen. He has that," said Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel.

"People don't realise how big he is and he can handle himself in the tight battle as well as being an exceptional line-out forward. He has the raw ingredients."