London Irish 15 Cardiff Blues 22
Saturday 14 January 3.45pm kick off
With Edinburgh grabbing a late win against Racing Metro on Friday night the Blues knew what they needed to do against London Irish to put them back at the top of Pool 2.
It was a ping-pong match to start with both teams looking to gain ground and Halfpenny and Jarvis exchanging penalties.
The Blues had a great chance, when 50 yards out, Warburton intercepted a pass and superbly fed Paterson. The big Kiwi sprinted all the way into the Irish twenty-two, however there was no support and Irish cleared.
As expected, it was a tense encounter and Parks was doing well marshalling things from fly half, keeping Irish pinned back and releasing the backs when it was on. London Irish also looked threatening on occasion trying to bring their backs into the game when possible with Topsy Ojo and former Blues scrumhalf Darren Allison looking lively. Irish took the lead through two Jarvis penalties, before Halfpenny cut the deficit with a well-taken effort.
Half time London Irish 9 Cardiff Blues 6
The Blues had a great opening to the second half when again Laulala showed his class. He used the overlap well on the left to throw a dummy to break the line before drawing in Delon Armitage, tried to round him, then slipped a pass for Warburton to score. Halfpenny converted. It was just what the Blues needed but a bit harsh on Irish when it looked as if the ball was knocked on by Cuthbert earlier in the move.
The score lifted the Blues who opted to kick the next penalty for a line-out and looked to attack. Parks got in position for a drop goal but it was charged down and Irish cleared to the half way lien where they won a penalty. Armitage showed his range by slotting it over to bring them within a point of the Blues.
Halfpenny exchanged penalties with Jarvis before the Blues fullback extended the lead with a simple effort in front of the posts.
With ten minutes left it was a tense ending again. Irish were awarded a penalty 40 yards out but Jarvis was short with his effort. However, they kicked the next one to the corner and looked to attack. Some heroic Blues defence kept them out before Cuthbert forced Gray into touch and Parks cleared.
The Blues won a penalty forty yards out and halfpenny slotted it to calm the nerve of the Blues fans and secure the win.
Tries Warburton x 1
Pen Halfpenny x 5
Con Halfpenny x 1
Pen Jarvis x 4 Armitage x 1
Cardiff Blues 15 Leigh Halfpenny 14 Alex Cuthbert 13 Casey Laulala 12 Gavin Henson 11 Chris Czekaj (60off) 10 Dan Parks 9 Lloyd Williams (60off)
8 Xavier Rush 7 Sam Warburton 6 Michael Paterson 5 Paul Tito (c) (71off) 4 Bradley Davies 3 Taufa’ao Filise (50off) 2 T Rhys Thomas (63off)1 Gethin Jenkins
16 Ryan Tyrell (63on) 17 John Yapp 18 Scott Andrews (50on) 19 Maama Molitika (71on) 20 Josh Navidi 21 Richie Rees (60on) 22 Ceri Sweeney 23 Richard Mustoe (60on)
London Irish 15. Delon Armitage*; 14. Topsy Ojo*; 13. Jonathan Spratt*; 12. Shontayne Hape*; 11. Adam Thompstone; 10. Adrian Jarvis; 9. Darren Allinson;
1. Clarke Dermody (Captain)*; 2. David Paice*; 3. Faan Rautenbach*; 4. Nick Kennedy*; 5. Matt Garvey; 6. Bryn Evans*; 7. David Sisi; 8. Alex Gray
16. James Buckland; 17. Alex Corbisiero*; 18. Paulica Ion*; 19. Bob Casey*; 20. James Sandford 21. Tom Homer; 22. Steven Shingler; 23. Paul Hodgson*
Yellow Card: Bradley Davies