Castres Olympique 27 Cardiff Blues 20
Friday 15 October 9.00pm kick off
Castres kicked off the round two Heineken Cup match and they nearly got an early score following a quick tap penalty by Tillous Borde 40metres out. Castres took the ball to within a yard of the try-line before knocking on and the Blues had the chance to clear.
The home side were extremely physical with a huge pack of forwards causing the Blues pack problems at the scrum. Alan Lewis, penalised Gethin Jenkins for collapsing it and Romain Teulet stepped up to convert the penalty.
Some sloppy defending from the restart nearly cost the Blues another score, when Czekaj and Blair allowed the ball to bounce back into the Blues twenty two, and they were fortunate that Castres knocked on again as they drove for the line.
The Blues were looking to play and throwing the ball around but getting themselves in trouble doing so. Penalised again, Teulet again converted, before Baikeinuku slotted a neatly taken drop goal.
Castres weren’t offering much, just trying to keep the Blues pinned in their own half and kicking penalties from the pressure. Teulet kicked his third to give Castres a 12-0 lead after 25 minutes but the Blues got their first points when Blair kicked a penalty following a good chase from the restart.
Teulet kept up his 100% record with his fourth penalty but Blair was equal to the task getting one back. The Blues were picking up points in the Castres half, but the problem was they weren’t in the Castres half enough.
The first try came when Castres finally tried to vary their play. Yoan Aundrin put in a neat kick that fell kindly into the hands of Vincent Inigo on the wing who sprinted in with Teulet again converting.
Their next try came from the Blues allowing Castres too much time on the ball. Having worked the ball right they then shipped it left where Marc Andreu gathered another neat kick to step inside the last man and touch down.
Half time Castres Olympique 27 Cardiff Blues 6
Halftime saw Tom James coming on for Ben Blair, who had taken a knock, with Czekaj moving to Fullback.
The Blues started the second half with a bit more purpose. Shanklin started a move with a neat grubber kick that he gathered well on the left. Tom James took the ball on and fed Molitika who crashed over with three men on his back. Sweeny converted and the score gave the Blues some momentum and they were putting some good moves together coming to within yards of the Castres try-line. They were starting to manage the game better and Sweeney was kicking well into touch.
It was a gripping match and hugely competitive. Pretorius and Tito had come on the field and added a bit of spark and with 10 minutes left there was a 14 point margin with the Blues going for the converted try to get a losing bonus point.
A late flourish saw the Blues rally and Scott Andrews was forced over from short range after a quick tap penalty. Sweeney converted the easy penalty and the Blues and gained a valuable losing bonus point.
Cardiff Blues 15 Ben Blair (40off) 14 Leigh Halfpenny 13 Casey Laulala 12 Tom Shanklin 11 Chris Czekaj 10 Ceri Sweeney 9 Richie Rees (70off) 8 Xavier Rush 7 Sam Warburton 6 Maama Molitika (60off) 5 Deiniol Jones (60off) 4 Bradley Davies 3 Taufa’ao Filise (70off) 2 T Rhys Thomas 1 Gethin Jenkins
16 Rhys Williams 17 John Yapp 18 Scott Andrews (70on) 19 Paul Tito (60on) 20 Andries Preotrius (60on) 21 Lloyd Williams (70on) 22 Dafydd Hewitt 23 Tom James (40off)
Try Molitika x 1 Scott Andrews x 1
Pen Blair x 2
Con Sweeney x w
Try Inigo x 1 Andreu x 1
Pen Teulet x 4
Con Teulet x 1
D/G Baikeinuku x 1
Referee Alan Lewis