Cardiff Blues 26 Sale Sharks 14
Saturday 19 January 3.40pm kick off
A heroic effort by members of the Cardiff Blues Supporters’ Club and Arms Park staff to move a heavy layer of snow from the pitch ensured that the match could be played.
It was Sale who got the first score when hooker Tommy Taylor was shoved over the try line, following a drive from the line-out, with Miller converting. The Blues looked to hit back instantly with Jamie Roberts battering his way close to the Sale try-line and Lloyd Williams just being held up short. However, Sale cleared before they were penalised and Halfpenny got the Blues first points of the day.
The Blues came close to scoring again with Jamie Roberts crashing through the middle, with Cuthbert on his shoulder to take the pass. The big winger looked like he was through, just yards from the try-line, but a last gasp tackle around his ankles prevented the try. Despite the heavy pitch, both sides were trying to run the ball in what was an entertaining opening quarter.
Halfpenny slotted a long-range penalty but it looked as if Sale had scored their second try after a Halfpenny clearance was charged down. However, after referee Peter Fitzgibbon consulted with his linesman, and deemed that Mark Jennings had knocked on before touching down. It was a lucky escape for the Blues. Halfpenny put the Blues ahead for the first time with his third penalty.
Half time Cardiff Blues 9 Sale Sharks 7
There was good news for the Blues at half time with Michael Paterson coming on to the field since fracturing his finger against the Ospreys in late November. However, it was Sale who started the second half with a bang; Aston Croall scoring a try from short range that Miller converted.
Lloyd Williams struck back instantly. The scrum half broke from a ruck 45 yards out and chipped over Amesbury before gathering the ball and sliding under the posts. Halfpenny converted to put the Blues back ahead.
The try lifted the home team who attacked again and appeared to have scored but Peter Fitzgibbon disallowed Scott Andrews’ effort.
Sale started to dominate territory, spending a good ten minutes in the Blues twenty-two, but the Blues defence remained solid.
The Blues extended their lead with a great try. Lloyd Williams threw a dummy from the base of a ruck 45 yards out and broke down the blindside, attracting three defenders, before throwing and overhead pass inside to Michael Paterson to touch down. Halfpenny converted and scored a penalty in the last minute of the game to secure a 26-14 win for the Blues.
Cardiff Blues 15 Leigh Halfpenny 14 Alex Cuthbert 13 Owen Williams 12 Jamie Roberts 11 Harry Robinson (74off) 10 Rhys Patchell 9 Lloyd Williams
8 Andries Pretorius (C) 7 Sam Warburton 6 Josh Navidi 5 James Down (41off) 4 Lou Reed 3 Scott Andrews 2 Rhys Williams (67off) 1 Sam Hobbs (74off)
16 Kristian Dacey (67on) 17 Nathan Trevett (74on) 18 Benoit Bourrust 19 Luke Hamilton 20 Michael Paterson (41on) 21 Lewis Jones 22 Jason Tovey (74on) 23 Dafydd Hewit
Sale Sharks 15 Cameron Shepherd 14 Tom Brady 13 Jordan Davies 12 Mark Jennings 11 Charlie Amesbury 10 Rob Miller 9 Will Cliff
8 Richie Vernon 7 David Seymour (C) 6 James Doyle 5 Kearnan Myall 4 Tom Holmes 3 Vadim Cobilas 2 Tommy Taylor 1 Aston Croall
16 Marc Jones 17 Ross Harrison 18 Eifion Lewis-Roberts 19 Richie Gray 20 Tom Cruse 21 Nathan Fowles 22 Danny Cipriani 23 Mark Cueto
Tries Williams x 1 Paterson x 1
Pen Halfpenny x 4
Con Halfpenny x 2
Tries Taylor x 1 Croall x 1
Con Miller x 2