Cardiff Blues 36 Racing Metro 30
Sunday 22 January 3.15pm kick off
With all the permutation of the weekend’s game over it was all to play for at the Cardiff City Stadium in their final Heineken Cup pool match with the Blues aiming to clinch a home quarter final spot.
A late change for the Blues saw Tyrell move from the bench to start at hooker, with Rhys Thomas pulling out with a stomach bug.
Wisniewski slotted two early penalties for the visitors to put points on the board, however, the outside half turned from hero to villain for the French side when Lloyd Williams charged down his kick and gathered to touch down. Halfpenny slotted the conversion and added a further penalty to bring the score to 10-6.
The Blues tried to play an open game and ran it from their own twenty-two but put pressure on themselves with a forward pass. Racing’s scrum was solid but they fumbled and Gavin Evans did well to break out from defence and clear. From the clearance the Blues won a penalty on the halfway line and but Halfpenny struck it wide. The Blues were playing well and had another chance to attack with Paterson and Rush combining well to win an up ‘n under. Cuthbert had half a chance with an interception but the high ball was knocked on.
Racing Metro claimed the lead in the 20th minute then they worked the ball down the right with forwards and backs combining well to put Josh Matavesi in the corner. However, his conversion went wide. Descons further extended the lead for the Frenchmen with a long distance effort before Halfpenny claimed one back.
The lead was constantly changing but the Blues regained it with a well worked effort. They won clean ball in the scrum and spread it right where Halfpenny joined the line and did well to gain ground and slip a pass to Cuthbert who gathered and sprinted in the corner. Halfpenny again added the extras.
However, the lead didn’t last long. Estebanez went on a powerful run from his own half, knocking defenders aside, all the way up to the Blues try-line before the ball was recycled for Bobo to cross. Descons again converted. Steyn added a long distance penalty to put Racing a point ahead at the break.
Half time Cardiff Blues 23 Racing Metro 24
The Blues had a blistering start to the second half. A Dan Parks up n under wasn’t gathered by Racing and Cuthbert collected the ball to sprint in. He did well despite Bobo putting in a last ditch tackle to claim his second. Halfpenny added the touchline conversion.
Descons missed a sitter with the ball hitting the upright in front of the posts after the Blues were harshly penalised from the restart. The crowd started to get vocal with chants and songs crying out especially from Aisle 112 making their presence felt. Descons and Halfpenny exchanged penalties and it was nail biting stuff for the Blues faithful.
Steyn put in another monster penalty from his own half and with 20 minutes left there was only three points in it. Racing were beginning to dominate territory but Matavesi squandered a chance when he went for a drop goal and the Blues were defending for their lives and managed to keep Racing from crossing the line.
With the news that Edinburgh had scored a third try the Blues had to be sure of the win and ideally a bonus point. They kicked for the corner and powered toward the Racing try-line. However, they were awarded a penalty and Halfpenny converted to give the Blues a six point cushion with 5 minutes left.
Molitika, who had come on for Tito, put in some strong runs and the Blues were in the twenty two. Rush gathered and charged for the try-line but was just held short. Rees gathered from the ruck and dived but was just held short. The Blues had a line out and knew they needed a try to score a try to secure the top spot in the pool. However Racing nicked it and cleared and with the news that Edinburgh had scored their fourth try, the Blues had won the match but knew they were second in the pool and now face Heineken Cup champions Leinster in the quarters.
Tries Williams x 1 Halfpenny x 1 Cuthbert x 1
Pen Halfpenny x 4
Con Halfpenny x 3
Tries Matavesi x 1 Bobo x 1
Pen Wisniewski x 2 Descons x 2 Steyn x 2
Con Descons x 1
Cardiff Blues 15 Leigh Halfpenny 14 Alex Cuthbert 13 Casey Laulala 12 Gavin Evans 11 Chris Czekaj (67off) 10 Dan Parks 9 Lloyd Williams (53off)
8 Xavier Rush 7 Sam Warburton 6 Michael Paterson 5 Paul Tito (c) (70off) 4 Bradley Davies
3 Scott Andrews (40off) 2 Ryan Tyrell 1 Gethin Jenkins (36off)
16 Marc Breeze 17 John Yapp (36on) 18 Sam Hobbs (40on) 19 Maama Molitika (70on) 20 Josh Navidi
21 Richie Rees (53on) 22 Ceri Sweeney 23 Tom James (67on)
Racing Métro 15Josh Matavesi 14 Henry Chavancy13 Francois Steyn 12 Fabrice Estebanez 11 Sireli Bobo10 Jonathan Wisniewski 9 Sebastien Descons
1 Mikaele Tuugahala 2 Benjamin Noirot 3 Benjamin Salemane Sa 4 Karim Ghezal 5 Francois Carl Van der Merwe 6 Johnny Leo'o 7 Antoine Battut 8 Sebastien Chabal
16 Grégory Arganese 17 Julien Brugnaut 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi 19 Jone Qovu Naliko 20 Mathieu Loree 21 Juan Imhoff 22 Remy Vaquin 23Jacques Cronje