Gloucester RFC 12 Cardiff Blues 16
Sunday 18 January, 3.00pm kick off, Kingsholm, Heineken Cup
The Blues got off to a good start in the crunch Heineken match, driving forward, with Gary Powell and Molitika carrying well. However, Gloucester were awarded an early penalty from inside their own half and Barkley managed to slot it between the posts.
Gloucester were beginning to dominate territory in the opening quarter but good following up on kicks by Shanklin and Jenkins saw the Blues work their way into Gloucester's half. The Blues eventually won a penalty of their own and Halfpenny was also accurate to level the scores.
Andy Powell did superbly from the restart, breaking through tackles, however a forward pass ended the move when the Blues were in a good attacking position. Gloucester worked their way back into the Blues half and again the home side had a penalty that Barkley converted.
The game was beginning to open up and a lovely break by Jamie Roberts in Gloucester's twenty-two cut the defence and the Blues carried the ball forward well. Great hands by Martyn Williams, picking the ball off his boot laces, saw the Blues work within yards of the try-line before the move broke down agonisingly short. To add to their worries, Tom James was shown a red card for head butting 27 minutes into the game.
Gloucester got another score when the Blues were penalised for not rolling away. And again, the Blues were penalised, this time for a high tackle. However, Barkley struck the crossbar with his effort before the half ended at 9-3.
Half Time Gloucester RFC 9 Cardiff Blues 3
The second half started well for the Blues when they were awarded an early penalty for a push on Halfpenny. The young fullback got up to convert with the ball skimming the post as it went over.
The score woke the home team and Gloucester attacked well. However, excellent defending and a clearance from Halfpenny put them right back in Gloucester's twenty-two. The Blues were awarded a penalty for Will James coming in from the side. This time, Halfpenny's attempt went just wide.
The Blues looked to have scored a superb try when Molitika won clean line out ball and Jamie Roberts carried well in midfield. Andy Powell went on a typical barn storming run, bursting through the defence, releasing Gareth Williams, who came within inches of the line. Spice was on hand and placed the ball over the try-line. However, Alex Brown prevented him from touching down. This was confirmed by the video ref.
Barkley struck another penalty to make it 12-6 to the home side and despite missing the next effort, Halfpenny struck a considerably easier penalty on 70 minutes to make it 12-9 with 10 minutes to go.
There was enough time in the match for superb driving runs by Rush and Filise in the dying minutes of the game. The ball was eventually moved to the right, where Bradley Davies crashed over for the try in the 76th minute. That sealed the victory for the Blues and guaranteed a quarter final Heineken match for Dai Young's men. For good measure, Halfpenny slotted the conversion.
15 Leigh Halfpenny 14 Gareth Thomas 13 Tom Shanklin 12 Jamie Roberts 11 Tom James 10 Nicky Robinson 9 Jason Spice 1 Gethin Jenkins 2 Gareth Williams (67off) Gary Powell (57off) 4 Deiniol Jones (60off) 5 Scott Morgan 6 Maama Molitika 8 Andy Powell (63off) 7 Martyn Williams (Capt) 16 Taufa'au Filise (57on) 17 T Rhys Thomas (67on)18 Bradley Davies (60on)19 Xavier Rush (63on) 20 Darren Allinson 21 Ceri Sweeney 22 Jamie Robinson
Tries Bradley Davies x 1
Pens Halfpenny x 3
Cons Halfpenny x 1
Pens Barkley x 4
Red Card - Tom James