Newport Gwent Dragons 14 Cardiff Blues 20
Friday 23 April, 7:05pm kick off, Rodney Parade
It was another sunny evening of rugby with the second Welsh derby in a week for the Blues having defeated the Scarlets in Llanelli last Saturday.
The Blues were awarded a penalty just inside Dragons half early on but Halfpenny’s effort went just wide. However, it was Arlidge who got the first points of the evening with a long range penalty effort minutes later.
The Blues early on were showing their intent to spread the ball with Czekaj and Roberts going on powerful runs in what was a physical encounter with both sides throwing everything at the rucks.
The Dragons were also working the ball well and eventually unlocked the Blues defence in the 20th minute when they spread the ball right. Tom Riley gained ground before delivering the ball left with Gavin Thomas giving the try scoring pass to Ben Castle. The Dragons had picked things up and now started to look threatening coming close again through Will Harries.
It was a pulsating match and now the Blues started to attack with Sweeney and Andrews gaining ground before eventually they were awarded another penalty that this time Blair converted.
The Blues were dealt a blow just before half time when Andy Powell was forced to leave the field with a calf injury.
Half time Newport Gwent Dragons 8 Cardiff Blues 3
The second half started with the same tempo as the first, Blair had a chance to narrow the gap with a long range penalty effort that just drifted wide, and hooked the next one to the left also.
However, the Blues were moving into good field position with Ceri Sweeney sprinting up the left and from the line out they were awarded a penalty and this time Blair didn’t miss.
It was thrilling stuff with both teams looking to attack but also some basic errors creeping in with kicks not finding touch from penalties or out on the full in open play.
It took a piece of luck from Ceri Sweeney that put the Blues in the lead. The former Dragons outside half put in a huge up and under that fell kindly into his hands. He had the pace and the power to shake off two tackles and touch down under the posts. Blair converted.
The second try came quickly after. Bradley Davies did well to time his pass and put Halfpenny in some space to sprint down the right past Sidoli. He stepped inside Martyn Thomas and passed to Gavin Evans to touch down, again under the posts with Blair again converting.
Both teams lost their Hookers with the ref showing yellow cards for fighting and the match was halted for a time with Martyn Thomas being stretchered off with a serious leg injury. The Dragons narrowed the deficit with a second Arlidge penalty and with 10 minutes to go it was 20-11 to the Blues. Gavin Evans did remarkably well to prevent a certain Dragons try when he intercepted a pass inside the Blues twenty two.
Lloyd Williams did superbly to ease the pressure with a huge kick up field and a sprint to the try line. However Will Harries just dabbed the ball down before the young scrum half pounced on it. Arlidge struck a third penalty with the last kick of the game to give the Dragons a losing bonus point but the Blues moved above them in the league with a hard fought win.
Cardiff Blues 15 Ben Blair 14 Leigh Halfpenny 13 Jamie Roberts 65off 12 Dafydd Hewitt 11 Chris Czekaj 10 Ceri Sweeney 9 Richie Rees 67off
1 John Yapp 2 T Rhys Thomas 3 Scott Andrews 50off 4 Bradley Davies 5 Paul Tito 67off 6 Maama Molitika 7 Sam Warburton 8 Andy Powell 35off
16 Gareth Williams 70on 17 Taufa’au Filise 50on 18 Deiniol Jones 67on 19 Andries Pretorius 35on 20 Lloyd Williams 67on 21 Dai Flanagan 22 Gavin Evans 65on
Newport Gwent Dragons 15 Martyn Thomas, 14 Will Harries, 13 Tom Riley, 12 Ashley Smith, 11 Richard Fussell, 10 James Arlidge, 9Wayne Evans,
1 Hugh Gustafson, 2 Tom Willis (c), 3 Ben Castle, 4 Rob Sidoli, 5 Hoani MacDonald, 6 Andrew Coombs, 7 Gavin Thomas, 8 Toby Faletau
16 Lloyd Burns, 17 Nigel Hall, 18 Lewis Evans, 19 James Harris, 20 Rhodri Gomer Davies, 21 Adam Hughes, 22 Alex Walker
Referee: Alain Rolland
Yellow Cards: T Rhys Thomas, Tom Willis
Tries Sweeney x 1 Evans x 1
Pen Blair x 2
Con Blair x 2
Newport Gwent Dragons
Tries Castle x 1
Pen Arlidge x 3