Premiership showdowns between Cardiff and Swansea rarely fail to go down to the wire and this was no exception as the Whites stole the honours with a ten-point ambush in the final four minutes.
The Blue & Blacks were left licking their wounds after surrendering a lead they had held from the 17th minute until a denouement that, to be fair, looked increasingly imminent the longer the second half wore on.
A strong breeze off the river end was a vital factor. With it at their backs in the opening half Cardiff did only moderately well, reaching the interval with a 19-11 lead. But they had failed to dominate territory as they should have done – their opponents gave them an object lesson in that facet after the break.
Gareth Davies and opposite number James Dixon exchanged short-range penalty goals in the first seven minutes before the latter gave his side a fleeting lead with a 30-metre drop goal which he made look deceptively easy in the unfavourable conditions.
Cardiff soon regained the lead they were to hold for the next hour as Craig Morgan chipped and regathered, linked with new skipper Rhys Shellard and Shaun James squeezed over near the left corner. Unfortunately the centre injured a leg in the process and with Richard Jones replacing him the midfield attack and defence was built around two natural number 12s
Davies converted from the touchline and added a 38-metre penalty goal before Swansea struck with a clinical try that should have set the defensive alarm bells ringing. From set piece possession full-back Nicky Thomas broke through too easily for a 40-metre gallop to the line.
Two further penalties by Davies, from 25 and 40 metres, completed the first half scoring but the pattern for the second 40 minutes was set immediately after the restart. The Whites came close to scoring on several occasions and although Davies popped over another straightforward penalty after a rare visit to the visitors' 22, Swansea begaan making inroads into their 11-point deficit when former Cardiff prop Ross Davies flopped over for a try converted by Dixon.
A great break by newcomer Matthew John set up Cardiff's second try, scored and converted by Davies, but that was the last throw of the dice. Immediately from the restart the loose ball was regathered by the Whites and Thomas raced over for his second converted try. Cardiff still led 29-25 and might have completed a reasonably good afternoon's work if Ryan Howells hadn't been recalled for the most marginal of forward passes as he raced clear for what would have been a decisive try.
That was with eight minutes left on the clock.
Relishing their escape, Swansea again camped in home territory and although they blew a couple of overlap opportunities eventually gained the crucial score when replacement Nicky Jones took a tap penalty and dived over from close range. Dixon converted and added insult to injury with a 32-metre penalty on the stroke of full-time.
Defeat in an opening fixture has no novelty value to Cardiff. They have now lost four out of the last five seasons' kick-offs. Consolation can be taken from the magnificent line out work of Matthew Veater and James Down who regularly stole Swansea throw-ins, a typically all-action display by hooker Rhys James, and a very promising competitive debut by scrum-half Tom Slater.
But a loss is a loss – and Swansea have now inflicted nine on Cardiff in 13 Premiership starts.