Blues cruise past Dragons
December 23, 2011
Gavin Henson was making his first appearance on Welsh soil since picking up an injury against England in August
© Getty Images
Gavin Henson enjoyed a winning debut as Cardiff Blues eased to a 28-9 victory over Newport Gwent Dragons in their RaboDirect Pro12 derby clash in the Welsh capital on Friday night.
Alex Cuthbert helped himself to a brace of tries, while lock Bradley Davies also touched down during a straightforward win for the hosts in which Leigh Halfpenny contributed 18 points with the boot. All of the Dragons' points came courtesy of the boot of fly-half Jason Tovey.
The Henson factor helped attract a season's highest crowd of 10,660 to Cardiff City Stadium on a freezing night and, in his first appearance in this league for almost three years, he was inevitably the early focus of attention.
The Dragons soon tested Henson with a high kick which he caught confidently, only to end a cross-field run with a loose pass.
Both sides missed penalties before Halfpenny put the ball into the corner and paved the way for the opening try. The Blues won the line-out and moved right, where centre Casey Laulala drew three men before passing out of the back of his hand to Cuthbert, who reached out to touch down despite the efforts of Dragons fullback Martyn Thomas.
Halfpenny converted and the Wales fullback, back in his usual position on the wing, also added a penalty, but Dragons fly-half Jason Tovey cancelled that out after Laulala shoulder-charged young centre Lewis Robling.
The Blues ended the half well on top and were rewarded when lock Bradley Davies crashed over for a score which Halfpenny improved.
Lions star Jamie Roberts joined the fray for the second half, but it was his fellow centre Laulala who warmed the crowd with a brilliant, jinking break.
Home fly-half Ceri Sweeney looked lucky to avoid a yellow card when he took out opposite number Tovey as he chased a hack downfield and the Dragons No.10 had to settle for kicking the resultant penalty.
A flurry of infringements saw Tovey kick one penalty from two, while the accurate Halfpenny was successful twice to extend the Blue's lead. But it was his running ability which confirmed the ability, a magnificent 40-yard gallop allowing him to send Cuthbert flying in at the flag. Halfpenny's conversion rebounded off a post, but the celebrations were already under way.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"If I miss the first kick of the match, it shouldn't have any impact on the second. They are different entities." Tom Hamilton talks to Northampton Saints' Stephen Myler
It's time for those running Welsh rugby to stop trying to prevent its players heading to France and to start planning a future without them, writes Martin Williamson
Paul Eddison explains how the French sold English clubs down the river and why their domestic game will go from strength to strength
'Nothing can prepare you for the noise of the Millennium Stadium though, you just can't hear anything." Tom Hamilton talks to Cory Allen