Aironi Rugby 3 Cardiff Blues 20
Friday 29 October 7.05pm kick off
Former French fly half Ludovic Mercier kicked off the match but it was Sweeney who got the first points of the evening with a penalty, following good build up play and a kick downfield by Martyn Williams.
Aironi’s lineout wasn’t functioning early on with Williams making the most of another overthrow gathering and kicking downfield again to gain field position and Rhys Thomas colleting a deflected throw in to sprint 30 yards downfield.
There was a hunger to the Blues play, which was sadly lacking last weekend, and they were putting pressure on Aironi, forcing them into mistakes, with kicks being charged down and dropping high balls.
The Blues were controlling the game and the forwards did well to drive forward and set up a platform for the backs. Eventually the score came when quick hands by Laulala put Paterson away down the left and the big Kiwi second row did superbly to pass out of the tackle for Mustoe to score in the corner. Sweeney converted the touchline effort.
Aironi did threaten but Dan Fish was having an assured match as the last line of defence in what was his competitive debut match. Eventually Aironi did get points on the board from the boot of Mercier following sustained period of pressure from the home side.
The Blues opted to kick for a lineout from a penalty and Paterson gathered cleanly. As they looked to build, the forwards did well to hold onto possession, with Mustoe and Lloyd Williams coming close to scoring, before the ball was eventually spread right where Lloyd Williams was again on hand to bounce off the defender to cross. Sweeney converted.
Despite a late effort from Aironi the Blues defence stood firm to hold onto a 3-17 half time lead with a much-improved effort from last weekend.
Half time Aironi 3 Cardiff Blues 17
Sweeney converted a 40 yard penalty to increase the lead early in the second half but there then followed another period of Aironi pressure with Fish, Sweeney and Williams doing well to clear upfield.
The match seemed to drift into a stalemate half way through the second half with neither side being able to gain much field position. Young winger Owen Williams had come on for Gavin Evans, and like his Academy team mate Dan Fish slotted in comfortably, putting in some big tackles early on and fielding the ball well.
The Blues however did come close to scoring after a lineout close to the Aironi tryline. Again they picked and drove with Rush, Pretorius and Thomas all gaining ground. The ball moved left but Hewitt failed to hold on under pressure just metres from the tryline.
A late push by Aironi from a 5metre line out nearly saw them score in the dying minutes, but some heroic defending kept them out before they knocked on and the Blues cleared to end the match and secure their fifth league win.
15 Dan Fish 14 Richard Mustoe 13 Casey Laulala 12 Dafydd Hewitt 11 Gavin Evans (48off) 10 Ceri Sweeney 9 Lloyd Williams
8 Xavier Rush 7 Martyn Williams 6 Maama Molitika (70off) 5 Paul Tito (c) 4 Michael Paterson 3 Scott Andrews (40off) 2 T Rhys Thomas 1 Tom Davies (70off)
16 Rhys Williams 17 Sam Hobbs (70on) 18 John Yapp (40on) 19 James Down 20 Andries Pretorius (70on) 21 Tom Slater 22 Gareth Davies 23 Owen Williams (48on)
15 Julien Laharrague; 14 Giulio Toniolatti, 13 Rodd Penney, 12 Gabriel Pizarro, 11 Danwel Demas; 10 Ludovic Mercier, 9 Tito Tebaldi;
1 Salvatore Perugini, 2 Fabio Ongaro, 3 Luca Redolfini; 4 Marco Bortolami, 5 Quintin Geldenhuys (cap); 6 Jaco Erasmus, 7 Andrea Benatti, 8 Nick Williams.
Replacements: 16 Roberto Santamaria, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Alberto De Marchi, 19 Joshua Furno, 20 Simone Favaro, 21 Pablo Canavosio, 22 Gilberto Pavan, 23 Riccardo Bocchino.
Tries Mustoe x 1 L Williams x 1
Pen Sweeney x 2
Con Sweeney x 2
Pen Mercier x 1
Referee: Graham Knox (SRU).