Cardiff too good for Tigers
October 25, 2008
Jamie Robinson dives in to score the Blues' opening try
© Getty Images
Cardiff Blues top their group in the Anglo-Welsh Cup following a deserved victory in a pulsating match, with a late try by scrum-half Jason Spice snatching a losing bonus point away from the Tigers.
The east midlands side can, mathematically, still qualify but the group is likely to be decided when Bath visit Cardiff Arms Park on Friday night. The Blues showed early intent when skipper Paul Tito stole the Tigers' first line-out and the home side, with fly-half Nicky Robertson's boot pegging Leicester back, dominated the early exchanges.
But two long-range penalties from Kiwi full-back Ben Blair were all they had to show for it and the Tigers gradually came back into the game.
A crunching tackle by Dan Hipkiss on opposite number Jamie Roberts earned them a kickable penalty, but Springbok Derick Hougaard put it wide, something he proceeded to repeat with two drop goal attempts.
Burly Fijian wing Seru Rabeni, making his first start of the season, caused chaos in the Blues defence with a rampaging run from his own 22, but the move broke down when his forwards conceded a penalty.
It needed excellent defence by Blues wing Richard Mustoe to prevent Leicester capitalising on a breakaway led by number eight Jordan Crane and taken on by scrum-half Harry Ellis.
The Blues came near when back row Andy Powell, newly selected for the Wales squad, flattened Hougaard in a bullocking gallop and the move carried on by Gareth Williams and Roberts was only ended by a controversial forward pass decision by English referee Dave Pearson.
Hougaard needed treatment, but picked himself up to put the Tigers on the board with an injury-time penalty. Teenager Leigh Halfpenny, another uncapped Blues man called up by Wales coach Warren Gatland, began the second half with a 50-yard dash from his own line as the Welsh region showed a new willingness to run the ball.
The Blues' first try was not long delayed. Roberts knifed through from a scrum to allow fellow centre Jamie Robinson to touch down under the posts and give Blair an easy conversion.
Hougaard kept the Tigers in touch with a second penalty, but an incredible 90-yard run by the 19-year-old Halfpenny took play deep into the visitors' 22 only for another forward pass ruling to foil Robinson's clear run to the line.
The Leicester pack were beginning to make their power felt and replacement Julien Dupuy and Tom Varndell were each held up short as the visitors piled on the pressure, Hougaard eventually settling for another penalty.
The Blues swept back down field from the restart but Robinson failed to hold onto the ball with the try-line begging. Blair was just off target with a penalty, before slotting over a much simpler one after Leicester dithered in defence.
The Blues were now on top again and Spice's late try, converted by Blair, confirmed their superiority.
Cardiff Blues (6) 23. Tries: J. Robinson, Spice. Cons: Blair 2. Pens: Blair 3.
Leicester (3) 9. Pens: Hougaard 3.
Cardiff Blues: Ben Blair, Leigh Halfpenny, Jamie Robinson, Jamie Roberts, Richard Mustoe, Nick Robinson, Jason Spice, Andy Powell, Robin Sowden Taylor, Maama Molitika, Paul Tito (c), Deiniol Jones, Taufa'ao Filise, Gareth Williams, John Yapp
Replacements: Gary Powell, T. Rhys Thomas, Scott Morgan, Martyn Williams, Richie Rees, Ceri Sweeney, Tom Shanklin
Leicester Tigers: Johne Murphy, Seru Rabeni, Danny Hipkiss, Toby Flood, Matt Smith, Derick Hougaard, Harry Ellis, Boris Stankovich, George Chuter, Julian White, Richard Blaze, Marco Wentzel, Martin Corry (c), Tom Croft, Jordan Crane
Replacements: Benjamin Kayser, Dan Cole, Ben Kay, Brett Deacon, Julien Dupuy, Ayoola Erinle, Tom Varndell
"At full-time I could not see the field for people dancing in front of me." Tom Hamilton reflects on the Lions' defeat at the hands of the Brumbies in Canberra
To coincide with the Lions' tour of Australia, and in association with Dove Men+Care, we are asking you to vote for the greatest Lions moments of the professional era
"He's full of empathy...he calms the water...he's the Brumbies' saviour," was how a taxi driver in Canberra described Jake White." Tom Hamilton files his latest Tour Diary
"I am not alone in believing this series could well be decided by who can steal most ball after the tackle." John Taylor previews the Lions' first Test showdown with Australia