Cardiff Blues 27-25 Ospreys, Magners League, December 31
Blues hold off Ospreys
December 31, 2010
Winger Tom James celebrates scoring a try during the Blues' victory over the Ospreys
© Getty Images
Cardiff Blues saw off a second half comeback by the Ospreys to notch a narrow 27-25 victory in their Magners League clash at Cardiff City Stadium.
A try from winger Tom James and 12 points from the boot of fly-half Dan Parks put the Blues in control at the break with a penalty from No.10 Dan Biggar the Ospreys' only reward for their first half efforts.
Both sides were reduced to 14-men shortly after the re-start with Blues tight-head Tau Filise and Ospreys loose-head Paul James sin-binned but the hosts shrugged off the setback and crossed for their second try courtesy of wing Richard Mustoe that was converted by Parks.
Two tries in two minutes just past the hour mark from Ospreys prop James and wing Tommy Bowe and the kicking exploits of centre James Hook raised hopes of a comeback before a penalty from replacement Ceri Sweeney gave the Blues some breathing room. Centre Andrew Bishop crossed for the Ospreys' third try with two minutes to go and Hook's conversion brought them to within two points but that was as close as they got. The result sees the Blues move up to third place in the table and close to within two points of the Ospreys who missed out on the chance to crank the pressure up on leaders Munster.
Cardiff earned a penalty straight from the kick-off which Parks comfortably kicked from 25 yards. He added another penalty in the fourth minute, once again coming from a ruck infringement by the visitors. The Blues were dominating territory and were happy to keep passing the ball in tight spaces, an ambition which earned reward when left wing James went over on the left with full-back Chris Czekaj giving the scoring pass following a break up the right by Casey Laulala.
Parks missed the conversion from wide out, while Ospreys outside-half Biggar got his side on the scoreboard with a 45-yard penalty from a scrum. He would go on to miss two more long-range efforts in the first half. Parks put more points on the board to reward Cardiff's pressure as he slotted two drop goals to extend the lead to 17-3 at half-time.
Ospreys needed to make something happen in the second half, but instead it was the Blues who extended their lead in the early stages following the sin-binning of props James and Filise. Wing Mustoe injected a burst of pace and ran through unopposed for a try from 40 metres out. Parks converted. Belatedly Ospreys were stung into action and a lengthy period of attack in the Blues 22 eventually brought a reward when prop Paul James forced his way over from short range after 59 minutes.
Ospreys were given further hope when wing Bowe snatched an interception and went 50 yards for the try which was converted by Hook. Ospreys then narrowed the points difference to within a score when Hook added another penalty, with both sides having substituted their starting outside-halves.
Sweeney landed a penalty at the other end to give the Blues extra breathing space. And although Bishop scored a late try for Ospreys, converted by Hook, it was only enough to earn a losing bonus point.
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
"Here is the line-up I believe will take to the field on Saturday, let the abuse commence." Tom Hamilton has a punt at the Lions' starting XV for the first Test in his latest Tour Diary
"Drafting former Lions heroes and rising stars into your side at short notice may make for great copy but it does not make for a great side." Graham Jenkins on the lesson from the Lions' first loss
"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