Match report: Blues keep pressure on with win
December 26, 2007
Cardiff Blues climbed to the top of the Magners League with a narrow 11-6 victory over Newport Gwent Dragons.
Cardiff Blues maintained their Magners League title challenge without even hitting the heights in a scrappy Boxing Day game at Cardiff's Arms Park.
Despite overwhelming territorial advantage, the expected four-try victory with a vital bonus point never materialised.
The Dragons were reduced to 13 men for 10 minutes in the first half when both props Adam Black and Gethin Robinson were sin-binned but the Blues failed to take advantage of the uncompetitive scrums.
Opposite numbers Nick Macleod and Aled Thomas kicked penalty goals in a dire first half that ended in a 3-3 stalemate.
The Dragons showed more attacking intent after the re-start but Macleod's second penalty goal put the Blues ahead against the run of play.
There was little time for coherent back play by either side, and it was no surprise when the only try of the game came from an opposition mistake.
In the 64th minute a loose line-up throw by the Dragons was seized upon by Blues flanker Ben White and, after a television replay, the try was awarded.
The capacity crowd had little to get excited about and typically the game ended with a punch-up in the forwards which led to red cards for Blues lock Paul Tito and Dragons number eight Joe Bearman.
The only consolation for the Dragons was that Ceri Sweeney kicked a penalty goal and a bonus point in an undistinguished defeat.
Cardiff Blues (3) 11
Dragons (3) 6
Blues: Jamie Roberts; Tal Selley, Jamie Robinson, Tom Shanklin, Gareth Thomas; Nick Macleod, Richie Rees; John Yapp, T Rhys Thomas, Gary Powell, Paul Tito, Scott Morgan, Ben White, Robin Sowden-Taylor (capt), Andy Powell.
Replacements: Gethin Jenkins, Gareth Williams, Maama Molitika, Mark Lewis, Darren Allinson, Rhys Jones, Dafydd Hewitt.
Dragons: Kevin Morgan (capt); Richard Fussell, Rhodri Gomer-Davies, Ashley Smith, Richard Mustoe; Aled Thomas, Wayne Evans; Adam Black, Ben Daly, Gethin Robinson, Adam Jones, Peter Sidoli, Jamie Ringer, Richard Parks, Joe Bearman.
Replacements: Steve Jones, Rhys Thomas, Michael Owen, Colin Charvis, Paul Emerick, Ceri Sweeney, Alex Walker.
Referee: Huw Watkins (WRU).
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham