Blues leap above Leinster
February 19, 2011
Dan Fish scored the decisive try for Cardiff Blues against Leinster
© Getty Images
Cardiff Blues leapfrogged their visitors to take second place in the Magners League after beating Leinster 11-3 at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Expertly directed by fly-half Ceri Sweeney - who kept Scotland No.10 Dan Parks on the bench - the Welsh region fully deserved their success.
The Blues showed commendable enterprise from the start, spreading the ball wide at every opportunity, but it was Leinster who created the first clear-cut scoring chance, only for centre Eoin O'Malley to hurl his pass out of the reach of unmarked winger Niall Morris and into touch.
At the other end, Blues speedster Richard Mustoe almost sneaked in on the right, but could not prevent a foot landing on the touchline. In the event, it was a penalty by Sweeney which put the Blues in front, but they spurned further efforts, preferring to go for the close range lineout.
Mustoe was held up just short and No.8 Xavier Rush lost the ball forward as he dived for the line, but the Blues' adventure was finally rewarded when veteran flanker Martyn Williams popped up as a link man on the blind side of a ruck and put fullback Dan Fish in at the flag for an unconverted try.
Leinster came back in the closing seconds of the first half, fullback Isa Nacewa, who had missed two earlier attempts, slotting over a straightforward penalty. Encouraged, the Irish stepped up the pace after the break, lively fly-half Ian McKinley being foiled by a last-ditch tackle from home scrum-half Tom Slater, before the visiting pack drove across the line, but were unable to ground the ball.
The Blues soon regained control, however, with flanker Andries Pretorius increasingly prominent, and Martyn Williams darted over only to be called back for a forward pass by Sweeney.
The Blues maintained their pressure, but were unable to turn territory into points, and their lead only survived when Leinster butchered a simple try. Nacewa switched direction to send Andrew Conway galloping into the Blues' 22, but the winger's final pass went to ground when flanker Dominic Ryan had nobody in front of him.
The inevitable substitutions disrupted the flow, but the introduction of Cook Islands prop Stan Wright, making his first appearance since injuring an Achilles in August, brought new stability to a previously vulnerable Leinster scrum.
Sweeney was just off target with a penalty from halfway, but when he had another shot from wide out, the former Wales international curled the ball inside the far post to clinch the home side's victory.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The latest Week in Pictures takes in a fiery East Midlands derby and all the action from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton