Cardiff Blues 15 - 9 Toulouse
Sat 12 December 15:45 Cardiff City Stadium Att: 10,511 Ref: Peter Fitzgibbon Heineken Cup

Cardiff Blues 15 Toulouse 9

Sat 12 Dec 2009 17:28 Cardiff Blues 15 Toulouse 9
Martyn Williams led the team out for his 100th cap as they faced off in the December sunshine against French rivals Toulouse.

The visiting French side showed their dominance early with two well taken line outs and pressure on the Blues within their own half.

Toulouse won both the early lineouts they were rewarded but good Blues defence forcing them back upfield. Tom James layed down an early marker with a run up the touchline, back and forth kicking soon ensued until more pressure by the Blues forwards forced a Toulouse kick into touch.

The Blues were awarded a penalty at a resulting scrum and took the points to take an early lead over the team they so narrowly beat last season.

A noisy Cardiff City Stadium crowd showed their delight when the Blues were awarded another penalty, this time Norton-Knight electing to kick to touch. The Blues gifted Toulouse the ball at the lineout but a big tackle by returning Barbarian Andy Powell stopped Fritz in his tracks.

Toulouse looked in trouble when good work by Martyn Williams saw the centurian put in a neat up field kick, chased down by Halfpenny, Toulouse however, managed to push the ball dead.

A poor kick by Clerc added to the Blues confidence as they continued to push on, buoyed by the crowd. More attacks came from British Lions Powell and Roberts but the Blues could not get over Toulouse’s 22.

Toulouse won another line out just off the half way line but the Blues regained possession and Norton Knight found touch. A characteristic Rush run followed but the Blues lost the ball. The Blues continued with their dominance though, winning the ball at the scrum.

Late replacement Tom Shanklin made a great run up but was unfortunately turned over. The Blues miraculously regained possession though and a beautiful charge by Blair looked certain to result in a try.

The Blues failed to secure the score but were not undeterred, A combined effort by the home forward and backs whipped the stadium into a frenzy but again they were forced into touch. Another run by centre Shanklin resulted in him being down for a couple of minutes with the physios, the 14 men Blues feeling the effects as Toulouse capitalised and forced a lineout on the Blues 5 metre line.

Referee Fitzgibbon found fault with Toulouse though and awarded the Blues a penalty, Norton-Knight finding touch to make the Blues more comfortable.

The Blues remained defiant in defence but a blow came as captain Tito left the field for medical treatment.
Toulouse began to look frustrated as their attacks provided nothing and the Blues were awarded another penalty. This time Ben Blair elected to kick for goal, taking the Blues to a 6-3 lead.

The Blues were relentless in defence and an amazing catch by Ben Blair yards from the home try line continued the pressure. The kick to touch taking the Blues back into the Toulouse half.

Just before the half time break captain Tito returned to action, just in time for the Blues to leave the field for half time, with the lead.

Half Time Cardiff Blues 6Stade Toulousain 0

It got even colder in the Cardiff City Stadium as the second half kicked off, the Blues shrugged off the cold however, returning to the field with the same momentum as they had before half time. Ben Blair extending the lead within the opening minutes.

A blip in the Blues defensive work allowed Toulouse into their 22 but the Blues secured the lineout just off the try line.

Toulouse were awarded one of their first penalties of the game and a chance to get on the scoreboard but Florian Fritz could not provide his team with the points required and the Blues maintained their slim lead.

Gareth Williams showed his prominence, making a tackle and stealing possession from the visitors, but Deiniol Jones gave away a penalty and this time Fritz converted to pull 3 points back for Toulouse.

The Blues who’d looked in command moments earlier began to let their guard slip and found themselves on the back foot, but as quick as the game had changed it switched again and the Blues were back in Toulouse’s half.

A failed drop goal meant Toulouse momentairily took possession but again they let it slip and centre Roberts piled on the pressure with powerful runs on the French defence.

Another penalty against the French forwards was met by rapturous applause by the capital city crowd and Ben Blair had no problems turning the advantage into points. The Blues regaining their 6 point lead.

Toulouse however turned their desperation into points with Michalak taking 3 points back with a penalty in front of the uprights.

Changes for both teams over the previous minutes saw a shift in the game and Toulouse began a fight back. A drop goal following in minutes to draw the visitors within a single score of the Blues.

Cardiff Blues talisman, hooker Gareth Williams left the field with just over 5 minutes until the whistle. The Blues began to lose their grip and were not helped when the referee failed to penalise for crossing metres from the dug-outs.

Another penalty came from Fitzgibbons and the visitors again elected to kick for the points but the score went begging as the City Stadium erruped.

The Blues regained their steely composure and again Toulouse gave away a penalty on the half way line. Leigh Halfpenny, returning from duty with the national side and Barbarians stepped up to take the kick and to the delight of cold spectators pushed the Blues lead to 6 points.

Sweeney put the ball in touch to give the Blues the all important win.

Attendance: 10,511

Referee: Peter Fitzgibbons

Cardiff Blues;
15. Ben Blair 14. Leigh Halfpenny 13. Tom Shanklin (off 26) 12. Jamie Roberts 10. Sam Norton-Knight (off 64) 9. Gareth Cooper 1. Gethin Jenkins 2. Gareth Williams( off 62) 3. Faao Filise 4. Deiniol Jones (off 64) 5. Paul Tito (capt) 6. Andy Powell ( 69) 7. Martyn Williams 8. Xavier Rush

16. T Rhys Thomas (62) 17. Sam Hobbs 18. Gary Powell 19. Scott Morgan (64) 20. Sam Warburton (69) 21. Richie Rees 22. Ceri Sweeney (64) 23. Dafydd Hewitt (26)

Stade Toulousain
15. Maxime Medard (55) 14. Vincent Clerc 13. Florian Fritz (76) 12. Yannick Jauzion 11. Cedric Heymans 10 Freddie Michalak 9. Nicolas Bezy (52) 1. Yohan Montes (46) 2. Williams Servat (46) 3. Census Johnston (64) 4. Romain Millo-Chluski (66) 5. Patricio Albacete 6. Thierry Dusautoir (Capt) 7. Louis Picamoles (58) 8. Shaun Sowerby

16. Virgile Lacombe (46) 17. Daan Human (46) 18. Jean-Baptiste Poux (64) 19. Gregory Lamboley 20. Yohan Maestri 21. David Skrela 22. Clement Poitrenaud 23. Yves Donguy