Cardiff Blues 12 Ospreys 16
Wednesday 31st December 2008, 2.05pm Cardiff Arms Park, Magners League
An early turnover by the Blues resulted in a penalty that Blair converted to give the home side an early lead; however Biggar soon equalised, following a high tackle.
Biggar struck another attempt wide minutes later. From the resulting drop out the Blues looked to attack against some casual defending notably by Biggar. The Blues eventually won a penalty - that Blair this time struck wide. However, he was accurate with his next attempt minutes later.
The Blues were playing well, winning the Ospreys scrums and line outs, but the Ospreys also looked threatening with Parker knocking defenders out of his way when attacking. The Blues did well to defend an attacking scrum on their own line and some solid midfield tackling saw Bowe penalised for failing to release, thus enabling the Blues to clear.
Despite some good attacking the Blues were also putting themselves under pressure by not calling for the ball when the Ospreys kicked, failing to find touch when clearing and some sloppy passing not going to hand.
The breakthrough finally came from the Ospreys. When Biggar chipped through and gathered, he fed Bowe who cut inside and passed for Byrne to score in the corner. Biggar missed with the conversion.
A blistering break by Halfpenny from the restart nearly resulted in a try when the youngster gathered a high ball on the halfway line. He split the defence with his pace only to be held just short of the try line. The Blues recycled the ball and Robinson slotted a drop goal to regain the lead.
Half time Cardiff Blues 9 Ospreys 8
The half stared with Biggar missing an early penalty for the Ospreys. Martyn Williams put in a good clearance and Tom James chased well, however he was taken out by Holah for a Blues penalty. This time Robinson missed from distance.
The half wore on with the Blues looking to open the Ospreys up by throwing the ball around, but they just werent able to make sufficient headway going forward against the rock solid Osprey defence.
The exception being a superb break by Tom James all the way from his own half, he cut inside and out of Henson, leaving him for dead, before Bowe got back for the last ditch tackle. Byrne was sent to the bin for killing the ball and Nicky Robinson kicked the penalty, however Hook soon got one back to make 12-11 to the Blues.
Both teams made a number of substitutions on the hour mark with Robin Sowden-Taylor, Darren Allinson and Scott Morgan all on for the Blues. The Ospreys continued to look dangerous with Henson and Hook both running with purpose however, the Blues defence held firm.
A scrum on the Blues try line eventually saw the Ospreys slip the ball out through the phases. Filo Tiatia was lurking on the wing where he managed to crash over for the try. Hook missed the conversion to leave the score at 12-16 with five minutes to go - desperation for the home team.
A last gasp attack with Tom Shanklin breaking though tacklers and the Blues keeping hold of the ball, saw the home team threaten a vital winning score, but the Blues were eventually forced into touch on the North side of the ground. The final whistle blew, meaning the boys in blue were left exhausted and out on their feet with only a consolation point to show for all their efforts.
Full Time Cardiff Blues 12 Ospreys 16
Blues Team: 15 Ben Blair (20off) 14 Richard Mustoe 13 Tom Shanklin 12 Gareth Thomas 11 Tom James 10 Nicky Robinson 9 Jason Spice (60off) 8 Andy Powell 7 Martyn Williams (63off) 6 Maama Molitika 5 Paul Tito (c) (60off) 4 Deiniol Jones 3 Taufaao Filise 2 Gareth Williams 1 Gethin Jenkins 16 John Yapp 17 T Rhys Thomas 18 Scott Morgan (60off) 19 Robin Sowden Taylor (63on) 20 Darren Allinson (60on) 21 Ceri Sweeney 22 Leigh Halfpenny (20on)
15 Gavin Henson 14 Tommy Bowe 13 Sonny Parker 12 Andrew Bishop 11 Lee Byrne 10 Dan Biggar 9 Mike Phillips 8 Filo Tiatia 7 Marty Holah 6 Ryan Jones © 5 Alun-wyn Jones 4 Ian Gough 3 Adam Jones 2 Richard Hibbard 1 Paul James 16 Ed Shervington 17 Cai Griffiths 18 Jonathan Thomas 19 Tom Smith 20 Jamie Nutbrown 21 James Hook 22 Jonny Vaughton
Pen Blair x 2 Robinson x1
DG Robinson x1
Tries Bowe x 1 Tiatia x 1
Pen Biggar x1 Hook x 1
Yellow card Lee Byrne