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.
As Ray McLoughlin prepares to celebrate his 75th birthday, Huw Richards pays tribute to the man and the selectors who had the wisdom to bring him into the Ireland fold
John Taylor argues the world's best XVs players must be given a chance to play in the Olympics to increase the appeal of the game
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament