Cardiff Blues travelled to Perpignan for the second Heineken Cup match boosted by their victory and second half performance against the Leeds Tykes.
PERPIGNAN 37 V CARDIFF BLUES 14
FRIDAY 28 OCTOBER 8.30 KICK OFF STADE AIME GIRAL PERPIGNAN
Director of Coaching, David Young had kept faith in the starting XV who began the game against the Tykes last Saturday. However, they knew it would be a tough challenge against one of the best packs in France and a team that had not lost at home for 31 games.
The passionate Catalan crowd got behind their team from the start with the brass band playing and the red and yellow flags waving in the Stade Aime-Giral. Nicholas Laharrague soon got the first score with a penalty from 40 yards out and nearly came close to scoring again when a drop goal attempt and penalty just going wide. The Cardiff Blues also missed a penalty kick at goal in the opening quarter of the game and there wasnt much luck for them a few minutes later as the Perpignan scrum half Nicolas Durand placed a cross field kick that cruelly bounced away from the Blues defence and in to the hands of winger Christopher Manas who sprinted to score the opening try.
A period of heavy attack by Perpignan followed and they won a line out on the Cardiff Blues try line. Excellent defence by the Blues kept the home side out but eventually the pressure was too much and Nicolas Durand snuck in for a try in the corner, excellently converted by Nicolas Laharrague. The Cardiff Blues fought back and threatened to score but wrong decisions were taken as the ball went wide lead to the movement breaking down, the Blues suffered a further blow when Andy Powell received yellow carded for a high tackle. Nicholas Laharrague kicked the penalty and the score at the break was Perpignan 18 Cardiff Blues 0.
Half Time Perpignan 18 Cardiff Blues 0
The home side had an excellent start to the second half as fullback Julien Laharrague broke through the defence and chipped the ball in to the Blues 22, Nicolas Laharrague collected the ball and kicked a neat grubber kick through for substitute Gavin Hume to collect and score. Nicolas Laharrague converted.
Soon after the Blues were awarded a penalty that Nikcy Robinson kicked to the corner. They attacked from the lineout and ensuing scrum and it was only last ditch defence that stopped Craig Morgan scoring. The Perpignan defence was firm and eventually they cleared their lines. Perpignan worked their way up the field and and excellent break by Hume and some neat passing from David Marty eventually lead to the winger Naulu scoring the fourth try that gave Perpignan the bonus point. This raised the spirits of the home crowd further and it wasnt long before they had more to cheer as Perpignan once again broke from the half way line, Julien Laharrague chipped the ball over the defence and it was gathered by Number 8 Ovidiu Tonita to cross and score. With the game won Perpignan seemed to relax and this lead to Craig Morgan making and excellent break from his own half and neat passing in the backs saw the ball go wide to Jamie Robinson. The Cardiff centre showed his pace as he sprinted in from 40 yards to score, converted by his brother Nicky. The score motivated Cardiff and there then followed a period of attacking play that really should have paid more dividend. Firstly, Nicky Robinson showed his strength and speed as he broke through the defence but the Blues failed to make the most of it as they overcomplicated things with needles passes when there looked to be a certain try. Minutes later Mike Phillips produced a great run that deserved more but the ball was knocked on when the Blues looked to be in an excellent position. With the Blues ready to attack from anywhere Chris Czekaj showed his pace but frustratingly the Blues once again try to go one pass to far when there looked to be a certain try for the taking. Eventually the score came from a lineout in the corner that saw Rhys Thomas crashing over and Nicky Robinson converting. However by then it was too late and the finals score was Perpignan 37 v Cardiff Blues 14.