Biarritz Olympique 6 - 10 Cardiff Blues
Sat 13 December 14:35 P d Sports Aguilera Att: 8,000 Ref: Peter Fitzgibbon Heineken Cup

Biarritz Olympique 6 Cardiff Blues 10

Mon 15 Dec 2008 10:12 Biarritz Olympique 6 Cardiff Blues 10
A wet and windy south of France pitch wasn’t ideal for running rugby in this crucial Heineken Cup match, but the Blues started the game much better than last week, with everyone knowing what to expect from the French opposition. A penalty against Bidabe early on gave Blair a chance at goal from 45 yards out, and despite the whistles of the home fans he did well to convert.

Just a minute later the Blues capitalised on another Biarritz mistake. Nicky Robinson put in a big up and under and Gareth Thomas did well to charge down the clearance, with Jamie Robinson pouncing on the ball for the try. Blair converted and it was a great start for the Cardiff Blues.

With the weather worsening, the match was turning into a kicking contest, with both teams trying to gain territory, but to their credit Biarritz were also trying to run the ball and looked threatening on occasions but the Blues defence was solid, with Gareth Thomas putting in some crucial tackles on the wing. There was 30 minutes on the clock before Biarritz took their first shot at goal and from just inside his own half Traille converted.

Biarritz nearly broke away when a Robinson chip through rebounded and Peyrelongue hacked through. Robinson, Powell and Halfpenny did well to recover but they conceded a penalty in their own twenty two that Peyrelongue converted.

A sliced kick by Robinson following the restart put more pressure on the Blues and they conceded another penalty, this time just outside their twenty two. This time Peyrelongue hit the post and the Blues cleared to leave the half time score at 10-6 to the Blues.

Half time: Biarritz Olympique 6 Cardiff Blues 10

It was nervy start to the second half with Biarritz nearly getting off to a flying start to the second half when Bolakoro charged down a Blair clearance, only to be beaten to the ball by Robinson, who touched down for the twenty two and prevent the try. A few mistakes were starting to creep into the Blues game but so far they were getting away with them, but it was a worry.

Biarritz were building momentum and the match was turning into an arm wrestle with not much flair but a lot of fight. The Blues defence was valiant on their own try line keeping Biarritz out and holding the ball up when they did cross, eventually the Frenchmen had to resort to a drop kick that skimmed across the floor.

However, Biarritz continued to attack and the Blues were stuck in their own half for 20 minutes of the opening second half. Great defensive work by Halfpenny and Gareth Thomas turned into attack, with Alfie hacking the ball downfield and putting real pressure on the Biarritz defence, who passed forward trying to clear.

However, the Blues failed to capitalise on their territory and the Frenchmen cleared. Charge down kicks were costing the Blues heavily with the Blues putting added pressure on themselves and Biarritz turning the ball over and winning territory.

Again, it would be a tense last ten minutes with only four points separating both teams. The Blues had fought doggedly and hung on for a famous win, which puts them in a great position at the top of Group 6 on 18 points, with away tri to Gloucester and a home match against Calvisano to come.

Full time: Biarritz Olympique 6 Cardiff Blues 10

15 Ben Blair (20off25on) 14 Leigh Halfpenny (65off) 13 Jamie Robinson 12 Tom Shanklin 11 Gareth Thomas 10 Nicky Robinson 9 Jason Spice 8 Andy Powell 7 Martyn Williams (77off) 6 Maama Molitka 5 Paul Tito 4 Deiniol Jones 3 Gary Powell (60off) 2 Gareth Williams (60off) 1 Gethin Jenkins 16 Taufa’au Filise (60on) 17 T Rhys Thomas (60on) 18 Scott Morgan 19 Robin Sowden Taylor (77on) 20 Darren Allinson 21 Ceri Sweeney 22 Tom James (20on25off65on)

Cardiff Blues:
Tries Jamie Robinson x 1
Pen Blair x 1
Con Blair x 1

Biarritz Olympique:
Pen Traille x 1 Peyrelongue x 1

Man of match: Ben Blair