Cardiff Blues 19 Leinster 23
Saturday 7 January 6.15pm kick off Cardiff City Stadium
A late change for the Bleus saw Leigh Halfpenny move to full back in place of Gavin Henson, who pulled out with a calf strain. Richard Mustoe moved to the wing from the bench.
It was Leinster who had the better start when a quickly taken free kick that saw Jamie Heaslip break through the Blues defence before slipping the ball to Sean O’Brien to touch down. Sexton converted. The Irish province soon doubled the lead, when inside the Blues twenty two, Sean Cronin slipped an inside pass to Rob Kearney who sprinted in unopposed. Sexton again added the extras.
However, Halfpenny slotted two penalties to put points on the board for the Blues after period in the Leinster half. The Blues were getting back in the game and Lloyd Williams was looking sharp at scrum half and a well worked training pitch move saw him sprint through a gap in midfield all the way into the Leinster twenty two. The Blues held onto the ball well before Parks slotted a drop goal.
Sexton added a penalty for Leinster to bring the half time score to 9-17.
Half time Cardiff Blues 9 Leinster 17
The Blues had a terrible start to the second half when nobody collected the Leinster kick off and the ball rolled out to touch. To make matters worse the Blues lost the lineout and O’Brien gathered and charged. However, they did well to turn the ball over and clear but then offended and Sexton again slotted a penalty.
Leinster were penalised in the scrum and from 40 yards out Halfpenny slotted the penalty to narrow the deficit to eight points. However, then the Blues fell off tackles and Leinster worked their way up to the try line before eventually the Blues cleared. It was end to end stuff and within moments the Blues were camped on the Leinster try line with a put in at the scrum. It looked as if Gethin Jenkins had scored when he was driven over. Marius Mitrea referred it to the TMO who awarded it. Halfpenny slotted the conversion to put the Blues to within a point of the Heineken champions.
Within minutes the Blues had worked their way back into the Leinster twenty two and were awarded another penalty that Halfpenny slotted wide. To make matters worse Macauley Cooke was penalised for pulling down Conway after he chipped ahead and McFadden slotted for Leinster.
Despite a frantic ending, with the Blues attacking for the try, the Leinster defence held firm to secure the win.
Tries Jenkins x 1
Pen Halfpenny x 3
Con Halfpenny x1
D/G Parks x 1
Tries O’Brien x 1 R Kearney x 1
Pen Sexton x 2 McFadden x 1
Con Sexton x 2
Cardiff Blues 15 Leigh Halfpenny 14 Richard Mustoe (73off) 13 Casey Laulala 12 Gavin Evans (10off22on) 11 Tom James 10 Dan Parks 9 Lloyd Williams (48off)
8 Xavier Rush 7 Sam Warburton (c) 6 Maama Molitika (48off) 5 Michael Paterson 4 Macauley Cook 3 Scott Andrews (74off) 2 Marc Breeze (42off)1 Gethin Jenkins
16 Rhys Williams (42on) 17 John Yapp 18 Sam Hobbs (74on) 19 Mattew Screech 20 Josh Navidi (48on) 21 Richie Rees (48on) 22 Ceri Sweeney (10on22off) 23 Harry Robinson (73on)
Leinster 15 Rob Kearney 14 Dave Kearney 13 Fergus McFadden 12 Gordon D’Arcy 11 Andrew Conway 10 Jonathan Sexton 9 Eoin Reddan
1 Cian Healy 2 Sean Cronin 3 Mike Ross 4 Mark Flanagan 5 Devin Toner 6 Kevin McLaughlin 7 Sean O’Brien 8 Jamie Heaslip (c)
16 Aaron Dundon 17 Heinke van der Merwe 18 Jamie Hagan 19 Leo Auva’a 20 Jodi Murphy 21 Isaac Boss 22 Isa Nacewa 23 Fionn Carr