Cardiff Blues 24 Aironi 13
Friday 7 January 2011
It was a positive start from the Blues with Roberts carrying strongly in midfield and gaining good ground and they were rewarded with a penalty that Sweeney converted.
The Blues built on the lead with the first try a few minutes later. A neat little grubber kick by Sweeney on the left bobbled awkwardly and beat the Aironi defenders and Tom James, but it was well gathered by Halfpenny who had the gas to sprint in and score on his starting return following his lay off with an ankle injury. Sweeney was wide with conversion.
Aironi fought back hard but the Blues did well to hold them out with some solid defending before winning a penalty and Sweeney clearing.
Laharrague missed two penalties for the visitors but they finally got the score from a driving lineout five metres out. The Aironi forwards kept the ball tight and eventually openside Gareth Krause forced his way over. It wasn’t pretty but it was effective. Outside half Marshall converted.
Aironi did threaten again but Sweeney did superbly to gather and break out of defence in his own twenty two then winning a penalty. They opted to kick for the corner and Davies won the ball and drove from the lineout, with Rhys Thomas crossing for the try. Sweeney got the extras.
Half time Cardiff Blues 15 Aironi 7
The second half started with Aironi substitute Paolo Buso slotting two penalties but it was an uninspiring game so far, with Aironi’s play quite limited and the Blues not much better.
Sweeney kicked a penalty to the corner, but this time the throw-in was inaccurate at the lineout, and the Blues lost good field position.
The Blues did try to attack but Aironi were penalised for holding on and this time Leigh Halfpenny stepped up but was wide a long distance penalty. However, Sweeney slotted an easier one just minutes later to bring the scores to 18-13.
The last 10 minutes saw the Blues push for the bonus point tries but to their credit the Aironi defence kept them out and all the Blues could manage was a Ceri Sweeney drop goal.
Parks came on for Jamie Roberts and slotted a last minute kick to bring the final score to 24-13.
Cardiff Blues 15 Chris Czekaj 14 Leigh Halfpenny 13 Tom Shanklin (60ff) 12 Jamie Roberts (74off) 11 Tom James 10 Ceri Sweeney 9 Tom Slater (79off)
8 Tom Brown 7 Sam Warburton (70off) 6 Andries Pretorius 5 Paul Tito (c) (72off) 4 Bradley Davies 3 John Yapp (47on) 2 T Rhys Thomas 1 Gethin Jenkins
16 Gareth Williams 17 Scott Andrews (46on) 18 Sam Hobbs 19 Deiniol Jones (72on) 20 Martyn Williams (40on) 21 Rhys Downes (79on) 22 Dan Parks (74on) 23 Dafydd Hewitt (60on)
Aironi 15 Julien Laharrague (40off) 14 Kaine Robertson 13 Rodd Penney 12 Gilberto Pavan 11 Matteo Pratichetti 10 James Marshall 9 Pablo Canavosio
8 Nick Williams 7 Gareth Krause 6 Simone Favaro 5 Carlo Del Fava (C) 4 Joshua Furno, 3 Fabio Staibano 2 Fabio Ongaro 1 Salvatore Perugini
16 Luigi Ferraro (41on) 17 Matias Aguero 18 Luca Redolfini 19 Quintin Geldenhuys 20 Josh Sole 21 Michael Wilson 22 Gabriel Pizarro 23 Paolo Buso (40on)
Tries Halfpenny x 1 T R Thomas x 1
Pen Sweeney x 2 Parks x 1
Con Sweeney x 1
D/G Sweeney x 1
Tries Krausse x 1
Pen Baruso x 1
Con Marshall x 1
Referee: Peter Allen
Yellow Card: Fabio Ongaro