Edinburgh wreck Cardiff's party
September 4, 2009
Chris Paterson sealed victory for Edinburgh in Cardiff
© Getty Images
Edinburgh ruined Cardiff Blues' first competitive game at their new stadium, winning 22-21 thanks to a fine first-half performance.
Having defeated the Blues in the last game at the old Arms Park last season, Edinburgh secured an opening win for new coach Rob Moffat thanks to tries from Alan MacDonald, Tim Visser and veteran fullback Chris Paterson. A controversial try from Chris Czekaj and a scintillating effort from Gareth Thomas almost stole the points for the home side, but a missed conversion from Ben Blair cost them the spoils.
New Blues fly-half Sam Norton-Knight, signed from the Waratahs over the summer, made an early mistake with a misjudged clearance that allowed Edinburgh to run through the phases on the Cardiff 22. His disappointing start continued with a charge-down, which Edinburgh failed to capitalise on.
Cardiff's inabilty to clear their lines cost them when Edinburgh fly-half Phil Godman switched play close to the line, allowing MacDonald to cut back agaist the grain and exploit the gap left by an over enthusiastic Robin Sowden-Taylor. Paterson converted from under the posts.
Blair drew three points back for the home side after Allan Jacobsen strayed offside but Edinburgh soon had their second when Visser dived in following more defensive misalignment from the Blues. A disjointed line allowed Edinburgh to penetrate at will and the Blues' favourites tag looked misjudged in the opening quarter.
Interceptions from Czekaj and hooker Gareth Williams spared the Blues more first-half woe and they soon clawed their way back with a try to Cjekaj. After some good ball retention the injury-plagued wing crossed in the corner - with both of his feet in touch. The touch judge gave referee Peter Fitzgibbon the all clear however and Blair slotted a superb touchline conversion.
Paterson missed two penalties before the half was out, but scored his side's third after Mark Robertson had beaten Czekaj to a cross kick. Paterson joined the line well took a simple offload to break away and score despite a despairing tackle from Leigh Halfpenny.
Blair's second penalty kept the Blues in touch, but Paterson redicovered his kicking form to extend the visitors' lead once again after Halfpenny was pinged for holding on. Blair's third penalty was again well-judged but the Blues were unable to make any headway in to the Edinburgh defence due to a series of handling errors and some sluggish service from scrum-half Gareth Cooper.
Norton-Knight's poor debut continued when he wasted a penalty by missing touch, a second effort ironically cheered by the crowd before he was replaced by Ceri Sweeney. The Blues wrestled their way back on to level terms in the possession stats and were awarded with an opportunity to force their way ahead when Halfpenny was halted by a high tackle.
They went to the corner but after multiple phases the Edinburgh defence held firm, Nick De Luca stripping the ball from Czekaj's grasp. Some superb handling by the ever-impressive Xavier Rush handed the Blues another shot and Test centurion Thomas seized the ball and accelerated away to score. Blair missed the conversion and as the Blues poured forward Czekaj was penalised for holding on, giving victory to Edinburgh.
"I had a perfect record against England as did a few other Welshmen. England always seemed to bring the best out of us." John Taylor on the age-old rivalry
Are the margins between the teams in the Six Nations getting smaller year-on-year? Huw Richards gives some answers
Martin Gillingham looks at the state of play in the Top 14 and gives his take on the club versus country battle harming the prospects of the French side
Manu Tuilagi, Cockerill's psychological warfare and Saracens' brute strength - it is the Monday Maul