Cardiff Blues 28 Newport Gwent Dragons 9
Friday 23 December 7.30pm kick off
After a respectively observed minute’s silence for Sue Evans, wife of Blues photographer Huw Evans, who passed away from cancer, the Blues kicked off and it was a bruising encounter from the start with some big hits going in from both sides. The Blues had the first points opportunity of the match but Halfpenny’s penalty goal just drifted wide.
Chavhanga, the Dragons South African winger proved illusive, breaking through tackles and gaining ground, which was a cause of worry for the Blues and the visitors were nearly on the scoreboard, with Tovey hitting the upright from a penalty kick.
However, it was the Blues that got the first points. They kicked a penalty to the corner and won the lineout and after a few drives by the forwards the Blues spread the ball out. Sweeney passed to Laulala who showed great strength and skill to offload from a two man tackle for Cuthbert to cross. Halfpenny converted.
The Blues started to apply the pressure having kicked another penalty into the Dragons twenty two but the Dragons defence proved stubborn to break down before they eventually conceded a penalty that Halfpenny converted. The Dragons struck one back after Laulala was penalised for a shoulder charge to bring the score to 10-3.
The Blues nearly scored the second try just before half time. This time Halfpenny entered the line from the blindside and Henson, who was making his Bleus debut, showed good hands to pass on to Cuthbert who was just forced into touch. However the Dragons failed to clear and the Blues attacked again, this time Bradley crashing over from short range following some good build up work from the forwards. Halfpenny converted.
Half time Cardiff Blues 17 Newport Gwent Dragons 3
The Blues conceded a penalty early in the second half when Sweeny was penalised for a shoulder charge on Tovey, who then slotted the points, however Halfpenny cancelled it with a forty yard effort moment later.
The Blues made a number of substitutions early in the second half bringing on Roberts, Rees, Breeze and Molitika as they looked to freshen things up.
The Blues had another good chance when Henson showed his class, slipping a pass to Laulala who broke all the way into the Dragons twenty two. They recycled the ball and Sweeny put in a well weighted cross field kick. The ball bounded and Halfpenny gathered on the tryline but somehow got stuck on top of Adam Hughes and failed to cross the line. The referee and touch judge both missed what appeared to be blatant Dragons offside when they came in form the side of the ruck and the Dragons cleared.
Halfpenny slotted another penalty after Tovey had missed one for the Dragons to bring the score to 23-9 with 10 minutes to go.
There was enough time left for the Blues to get their third try. From the halfway line Halfpenny showed great pace to break through the defence into the Dragons twenty two and timed his pass to Cuthbert perfectly to sprint in. Parks hit the upright with the conversion.
Tries Cuthbert x 1 Davies x 1 Cuthbert x 1
Pen Halfpenny x 2
Con Halfpenny x 2
Newport Gwent Dragons
Pen Tovey x 3
Cardiff Blues 15 Gavin Henson 14 Leigh Halfpenny 13 Casey Laulala 12 Dafydd Hewitt (40off) 11 Alex Cuthbert 10 Ceri Sweeney 9 Lloyd Williams (50off)
8 Xavier Rush 7 Sam Warburton (70off) 6 Michael Paterson 5 Paul Tito (c) (55off) 4 Bradley Davies 3 Taufa’ao Filise (40off) 2 Ryan Tyrell (70off) 1 Gethin Jenkins (15off)
16 Marc Breeze (70on) 17 John Yapp (15on) 18 Scott Andrews (40on) 19 Josh Navidi (70on) 20 Maama Molitika (55on) 21 Richie Rees (50on) 22 Dan Parks (62on) 23 Jamie Roberts (40on/62off)
Newport Gwent Dragons 15 Martyn Thomas 14. Tonderai Chavhanga 13. Adam Hughes 12. Lewis Robling 11. Aled Brew 10. Jason Tovey 9. Wayne Evans
8.Toby Faletau 7. Gavin Thomas 6. Dan Lydiate 5. Robert Sidoli 4. Adam M Jones 3. Nathan Buck 2. Lloyd Burns 1. Nathan Williams
16. Steve Jones17. Phil Price 18. Dan Way 19. Jevon Groves 20. Darren Waters 21. Joe Bedford 22. Anitelea Tuilagi 23. Mathew Peutner