Newcastle Falcons v Cardiff Blues
Sunday 11 April, 3.00pm kick off, Amlin Cup quarter final
It was a glorious sunny day in the north east, ideal for open rugby, and both teams looked to spread the ball. An early attack by Newcastle saw Bobo chip ahead, however Czekaj had the pace to recover and touch down for a drop out.
The Blues then started wave upon wave of attack with Molitika and Rush carrying strongly and Sweeney came close before they recycled well and drove to within yards of the try line. A scrum five metres out saw Richie Rees take on the defence and pass on to Laulala who had the strength to power over. Blair converted.
Gopperth struck a simple penalty following hands in the ruck, to give Newcastle their first points of the afternoon. However, from the restart Molitka gathered well and Ceri Sweeney carried strongly breaking tackles. The ball eventually moved left where Halfpenny was dragged down just short but Williams powered over form close range. Blair again converted.
Newcastle picked up their game with Gopperth coming close but a last ditch tackle by Blair kept him out, from the ruck Amesbury made the most of some slack defence to sprint through. Gopperth converted and added another penalty to bring the score to 13-14 in what was proving to be an entertaining match.
A late tackle on Laulala saw the Blues awarded a penalty that Blair converted and the Blues started to attack strongly again with only the last pass preventing another try.
Half Time Newcastle Falcons 13 Cardiff Blues 17
The Blues started the second half strongly with the forwards driving well from a scrum 20 metres out. They rammed their way to the line before eventually Filise crashed over for the try. Blair again added the extras to extend the lead to 11 points. They came close again minutes later with Laulala finding gaps and Filise and Martyn Williams again taking the ball forward before being awarded a penalty that Blair slotted.
The next score came from some excellent work from Sweeney and Filise. Again the big Tongan powered his way through midfield before Williams threw a long pass out to Molitika who passed on to Blair to touch down in the corner. The New Zealander maintained his 100% kick record with the conversion.
The next try came from some superb inter passing between forwards and backs with Gareth Williams and Gethin Jenkins showing slick hands before the ball went right to Rush who passed inside to Jamie Roberts to score. Again Blair converted.
Allinson and Tito came of the bench and Tito was on hand to give the scoring pass to Filise to power over for his second and the Blues’ sixth try. Blair inevitably converted in what was turning into a rout.
However, Newcastle hadn’t given up and Micky Young did well to spot a gap at the edge of a ruck and dart over under the posts for a late try that Gopperth converted. However it was Sweeney who got the last try of the afternoon with Blair rounding off a brilliant kicking display with the conversion to book the Blues a place in the semi final where they will face Wasps, Toulon or Connacht away.
Cardiff Blues 15 Ben Blair 14 Leigh Halfpenny 13 Casey Laulala 69off 12 Jamie Roberts 60off 11 Chris Czekaj 10 Ceri Sweeney 9 Richie Rees 57off
8 Xavier Rush 68off 7 Martyn Williams 6 Maama Molitika 5 Deiniol Jones 4 Bradley Davies 54 off 3 Taufa’au Filise 60off 2 T Rhys Thomas 46off 1 Gethin Jenkins (C) 57off
16 Gareth Williams 46on 17 John Yapp 57on 18 Scott Andrews 60on 19 Paul Tito 54on 20 Sam Warburton 68on 21 Darren Allinson 57on 22 Dai Flanagan 69on 23 Dafydd Hewitt 60on
Newcastle Falcons 15 Alex Tait, 14 Tom Biggs 13 Gcobani Bobo, 12 Tane Tu'ipulotu, 11 Charlie Amesbury, 10 Jimmy Gopperth (c) 9 Micky Young,
1 Jon Golding, 2 Rob Vickers, 3 Micky Ward, 4 James Hudson, 5 Filipo Levi, 6 Brent Wilson, 7 Ed Williamson, 8 Josh Afu
16 Alex Walker, 17 Kieran Brookes 18 Grant Shiells, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Will Welch, 21 Chris Pilgrim, 22 Tom Catterick, 23 Chris Micklewood
Tries Laulala x 1 M Williams x 1 Filise x 2 Blair x 1 Roberts x 1 Sweeney x 1
Con Blair x 7
Pen Blair x 2
Tries Amesbury x 1 Young x 1
Con Gopperth x 2
Pen Gopperth x 2