Cardiff Blues 11 Northampton Saints 5
EDF Energy Cup Semi-Final
Ricoh Arena, Coventry Saturday 28 March 5.15pm kick off
The winners of the second EDF Energy Cup semi final match of the day knew they would face Gloucester in the final following a disappointing performance by the Ospreys, and the Blues got off to a good start with an early penalty for Ben Blair in the opening minute.
The Cardiff Blues were building momentum and a superb grubber kick by Robinson saw the Saints under pressure on their own try line early on, before clearing and moving up field to the Blues half. Following some good work by the forwards they were awarded a straightforward penalty in the Blues twenty-two that Myler struck wide.
The Blues had another shot at goal, following Roger Wilson offending with hands in the ruck, but Blair was just wide with his attempt. It was a tense opening quarter with the score at 3-0.
Both teams were looking to spread the ball and the Blues were let off the hook when Ansbro seemed to be through forty yards out, luckily for the Blues he failed to hold onto the ball.
The Saints defence was solid with not many gaps in the line and they were also attacking well. A hack through by Hartley put the Blues under pressure but Shanklin did superbly to chase back and gather before the ball was cleared.
The Blues forwards were also going well with Fau Filise carrying strongly and gaining yards, and on that platform the Blues looked to spread the ball. They nearly crept in at the corner before they were held up. However, Spice used his experience to fool the defence and snuck in on the blind-side to touch down.
Half Time Cardiff Blues 8 Northampton Saints 0
The Saints struck back in the opening minutes. Myler broke through the defence on the blind side and slipped a pass to Ansbro, who had the power to dive over in the corner, to give Northampton their first points of the evening.
The score woke the Blues and a superb break from Halfpenny all the way from his own try line to the edge of the Saints twenty two, gained great territory for the Blues, followed by strong running by James that nearly saw Shanklin over in the corner. The Blues however, were awarded another penalty following Northampton infringement but Blair again struck it wide.
Robinson and Halfpenny were showing their class, with the fly half breaking on the blindside of a ruck and the winger putting in a deft chip that beat 3 players. But it wasnt one-way traffic, a strong scrum by Saints saw the Blues go back and concede a penalty that substitute fly half Barry Everitt struck wide in front of the posts.
The Blues nearly scored a try in the 70th minute following some superb driving by the forwards to the Saints try line. Robinson looked to go right but his pass didnt come off. However, Saints were offside and Blair slotted the easy penalty to bring the score 11-5 with 9 minutes to go.
Despite the six point gap, the Blues were making things hard for themselves not clearing their lines but fortunately Northampton were knocking the ball on allowing the Blues a platform to clear. A huge Ben Blair clearance took pressure off them and they hung in to book their place in the final.
15 Ben Blair 14 Leigh Halfpenny 13 Tom Shanklin 12 Jamie Roberts 11 Tom James 10 Nicky Robinson 9 Jason Spice 1 Gethin Jenkins 2 Gareth Williams (65off) 3 Taufaao Filise (70off) 4 Deiniol Jones (58off) 5 Paul Tito (C) 6 Maama Molitika 7 Robin Sowden Taylor 8 Xavier Rush (76off) Replacements 16 John Yapp (70on) 17 T Rhys Thomas (65on)18 Bradley Davies (58on) 19 Scott Morgan (76on) 20 Richie Rees 21 Ceri Sweeney 22 Jamie Robinson
Tries Spice x 1
Pens Blair x 2
Tries Ansbro x 1