Cardiff Blues 18 Northampton Saints 23
Sunday 19 December 3.00pm kick off Heineken Cup
Northampton kicked off the crucial round 4 match and took an early lead through a penalty by Myler. The Blues however were getting the better of the territory and looked to threaten in the Northampton half in the early stages of the match. The Blues did well to turn the ball over at a Saints line out and spread it right, with Mustoe just being edged out to touch yards from the tryline.
A period of pressure followed from the Blues with Rush this time coming close to the tryline following good build up work by Rees and Tom James. Eventually they were awarded a penalty for offside and Parks levelled the scores.
Myler regained the lead with a long range effort following a clever lineout move by Hartley and Tonga’uiha gaining ground in to the Blues half.
The Blues however did most of the attaching with a neat break down the blindside by Richie Rees and Martyn Williams seeing them move into the twenty two with Rush carrying the ball forward and Bradley Davies also elusive with his run. The Blues were again within a yard of the tryline but some solid Saints defence keeping them out. Eventually James Downey was shown a yellow card for a trip and from the penalty Parks again levelled the score. The Scottish international kicked another well struck penalty to put the Blues ahead but Myler levelled in the last minute of the half.
Half time Cardiff Blues 9 Northampton Saints 9
The Blues made one half time change with one Lions centre replacing another, Jamie Roberts coming on for Tom Shanklin.
The deadlock was broken with the first try of the match coming following a superb break by Laulala breaking through midfield and gaining good ground. Czekaj carried on the move to the right and eventually the Blues spread the ball left with Roberts and Rush barracking their way through. The ball went wide to Mustoe who despite being tackled did well to wriggle over. Parks converted.
The Blues were however dealt a blow when Bradley Davies was shown a yellow for kicking the ball out of the scrumhalf’s hands and Myler converted. Things went from bad to worse when Rush was shown a red card for a deemed high tackle on Courtney Lawes, who appeared to have slipped into Rush’s chest high challenge. Myler got the points and the Blues were down to 13 men. The game was heating up and the home crowd was even more incensed when Richie Rees was tackled in the air and nothing given.
With the man advantage Northampton looked threatening but the Blues defended heroically and even won a scrum with six men. However, they soon conceded a penalty at the scrum and Myler put Northampton ahead 18-16 with 20 minutes left. The lead didn’t last for long. The Blues fought their way into the Saints twenty two and Parks dropped a goal to put the Blues a point ahead.
The Saints seemed to be gathering momentum making the most of the extra man and the Blues were finding it hard to get out of their own half. The Saints attacked into the twenty two and came close to the Blues tryline. A great tackle by Laulala kept Wood out just inches short and the move continued. The referee then referred the decision to the TMO who awarded the score to Dylan Hartley. Myler missed the extras.
There was still time for one last push from the Blues to salvage the win. They worked their way well into the Saints half and were awarded a penalty that Parks kicked to the corner. With three minutes left it was the last roll of the dice for the Blues. They won clean ball and drove but when the ball came out Molitika knocked on and the Blues Heineken Cup hopes seemed to be over.
Cardiff Blues 15. Chris Czekaj 14. Richard Mustoe 13. Casey Laulala 12. Tom Shanklin (40off) 11. Tom James 10. Dan Parks 9. Richie Rees
1. Gethin Jenkins 2. Gareth Williams (60off) 3. Taufa'ao Filise (66off0 4. Bradley Davies 5. Paul Tito (c) (60off) 6. Maama Molitika 7. Martyn Williams (60off) 8. Xavier Rush
16. Rhys Williams (60on) 17. Sam Hobbs 18. John Yapp (66on) 19. Michael Paterson (60on) 20. Sam Warburton (60on) 21. Tom Slater 22. Ceri Sweeney 23. Jamie Roberts (40on)
Northampton Saints 15 Ben Foden 14 Chris Ashton 13 Jon Clarke 12 James Downey 11 Paul Diggin 10 Stephen Myler 9 Ryan Powell
1 Soane Tonga'uiha 2 Dylan Hartley (c) 3 Brian Mujati 4 Courtney Lawes 5 Christian Day 6 Phil Dowson 7 Tom Wood 8 Roger Wilson
16 Brett Sharman 17 Regardt Dreyer 18 Alex Waller 19 Mark Sorenson 20 Calum Clark 21 Lee Dickson 22 Shane Geraghty 23 Joe Ansbro
Tries Mustoe x 1
Pen Parks x 3
Con Parks x 1
D/G Parks x 1
Tries Hartley x 1
Pen Myler x 6
Referee - Jerome Garces (F)
Yellow Cards Bradley Davies, James Downey Calum Clark
Red card Xavier Rush