Cardiff Blues 16 - 15 Ulster
Fri 12 September 19:05 Cardiff Arms Park Att: 8,619 Ref: Alan Lewis Celtic League

Cardiff Blues 16 Ulster 15

Thu 11 Sep 2008 21:58 Cardiff Blues 16 Ulster 15
The Blues playing in pink, started the match brightly with good territory and attacking Ulster in the opening minutes.

However, shocking passing from the Blues saw them driven backwards and Ulster attacked before Czekaj forced O’Donoghue into touch. It was Ulster who got the first score after kicking deep from a penalty they eventually shifted the ball wide to the left where Botha crashed over from a ruck.

Ulster looked to be constantly offside putting pressure on the Blues. Eventually,  the Blues won a penalty in the 16th minute that Blair converted. The home side conceded another penalty minutes later that O’Connor converted

The Blues still looked rusty in the backs with sloppy passing costing them. They did manage to get into the twenty-two through an Ulster error but again failed to capitalise on territory

A crunching tackle by Jamie Robinson prevented the ball going to the wing where Ulster had an overlap in another good move. It was the Blues who got the next score when they were awarded a penalty for not rolling away and Blair was again accurate with the long range effort.

Minutes later O’Connor struck a penalty wide from a relatively easy angle and Robinson again went for the drop goal that didn’t quite make it. The Blues were dealt another blow at the end of the half with Martyn Williams being forced off with an ankle injury. A scan will follow.

Half Time Score - Cardiff Blues 6 Ulster 8

The opening minutes of the second half saw Jamie Robinson slicing through the Ulster defence. Frustratingly just yards away from the try line his pass went behind Halfpenny who would have been a certainty to score.

Thomas Anderson nearly scored breakaway try for the visitors when he collected a loose ball in his own twenty-two and sprinted into the Blues half. Halfpenny had the pace to catch him and bring him down and Blair did well to clear. Andy Powell who had come on for Williams followed up his up and under with a crunching tackle and the Blues were awarded a penalty for holding on. Blair struck the upright and the ball bounced out.

It wasn’t long before the Blues got the score they deserved. Inside the twenty-two the Blues won a line out and Halfpenny gathered an inside pass from Sweeney. It was a well worked move and the youngster had the speed to touch down under the posts. Blair added the conversion.

Twice in one movement Ulster showed great ball handling collecting the ball from their feet with Trimble doing exceptionally well. However Andy Powell was equal to the danger and snubbed out the attack.

However, it didn’t last for long. Ulster won a scrum in the Blues twenty two and after a number of phases, Isaac Boss slipped though a Jamie Robinson tackle to score under he posts. O’Connor added the conversion. The Blues were trailing with less than 10 minutes left and to add to their problems, Halfpenny was carried off with what looked like concussion.

The Blues were given a chance when they were awarded a penalty and Blair slotted it to put them back in the lead but only be the slenderest of margins.

In the final minutes Gareth Willaims drove through the middle trying to make ground but again the Blues kicked away possession. The scoreboard was not troubled again before the final whistle as the Blues hung to claim their first win of 2008/9.

Final Score - Cardiff Blues 16 Ulster 15

Cardiff Blues 15 Ben Blair 14 Leigh Halfpenny 13 Jamie Robinson 12 Gareth Thomas 11 Chris Czekaj (64off) 10 Nicky Robinson (46off) 9 Darren Allinson (60off) 8 Mark Lewis 7 Martyn Williams (39off) 6 Maama Molitika 5 Paul Tito 4 Bradley Davies (70off) 3 Gary Powell 2 T Rhys Thomas (62off) 1 Gethin Jenkins 16 John Yapp 17 Gareth Williams (62on) 18 Scott Morgan (70on) 19 Andy Powell (39on) 20 Jason Spice (60on) 21 Ceri Sweeney (46on) 22 Jamie Roberts (64on)

Cardiff Blues                             
Tries Halfpenny x 1
Pen Blair x 3
Con Blair x 1

Tries Botha x 1 Boss x 1
Pen O’Connor x 1
Con O’Connor               

Attendance 7,431