Having convincingly beaten London Wasps last Saturday in the first round of the EDF Energy Cup, Cardiff Blues travelled up the M4 aiming to get another win against English opposition when they took on Saracens.
The Blues who were playing in white won a scrum early on and Mark Lewis ran powerfully and passed out to Nicky Robinson who cleared 70 yards up-field. Martyn Williams stole the line out ball which was spread out to the backs. Tom Shanklin who was returning to his former club came in on the scissors but Marc Stcherbina dummied and a quick swivel of the hips saw the Australian cross fro the firs try of the match converted by Blair. Glen Jackson kicked penalty for the home side to get them on the score board when Gary Powell was penalised for holding on in a ruck.
The Blues were looking dangerous with Chris Czekaj showing his pace and Gary Powell getting close to scoring early on. The Blues kept up the pressure but a promising move seemed to have broken down when Seymor stole the ball and broke away. Good chasing back and a tackle from Martyn Williams saw the Blues regain possession. Mike Phillips passed the ball early from the base of the ruck and Shanklin had the pace to sprint in from 50 yards to score. Saracens soon fought back and Tomas de Vedia managed to crash over from close range in the corner with the try converted by Glen Jackson. More pressure form the Blues saw a penalty converted by Ben Blair and also a blood replacement with Nick Macleod coming on for Shanklin who had suffered a cut eye. However, Jackson soon converted two penalties for Sarries to give them the lead for the first time.
Sloppy tackling by the Blues let the Saracens through their defence and Rhys Thomas was deemed to deliberately knock on the ball when Saracens had and overlap on the right. Jackson once again converted and Thomas was sent to the sin bin. The wave of attack from Saracens continued but this time the Blues defence was solid and they managed to clear their line. However, just on turn of half time Saracens were awarded another penalty to extend the Saracens lead to 22-15
HALF TIME SARACENS 22 V CARDIFF BLUES 15
Cardiff Blues looked to attack from the restart with some good play by Nick Robinson and as a result of a collapsed scrum the Blues were awarded a penalty. Blair stepped up, but his kick hit the post, the ball rebounded and Shanklin was on hand once again and managed to drive the Saracens player over the line to touch down and award the Blues a scrum v. It appeared that the Saracens defence was pushing the Blues back, but Ben Blair came in to the line at pace and gave a switch pass to Mark Lewis who crashed over the line to touch down, injuring himself in the process. Blair converted to level the scores and Xavier Rush came on to replace Lewis. The Blues kept up the pressure and excellent work from Blair, Williams and Rush saw an overlap on the left and lovely pass out to Shanklin saw the big centre sprint over for his second try of the day to give the Blues the lead at 22-27.
Blair once again hit the post with a penalty and Shanklin once again chased excellently to grab the ball and nearly cross the try line. The hour mark also saw Andy Farrell make his long awaited home appearance for the Saracens at blind side flanker. Cardiff Blues were awarded another penalty when Mike Phillips was obstructed following a neat chip though and this time Blair made sure to extend the lead to 22-33 and they didnt have to wait long to extend it further. Saracens tried to play the ball in their own half and as Shanklin pushed up Johnston threw a pass out to his winger only for Luveitasau to intercept and sprint through to score. Deiniol Jones and Gethin Jenkins left the filed for John Yapp and Bradley Davies, but the big second row forward had hardly touched by ball before he was sin binned by referee, Tony Spreadbury. Saracens did eventually manage to work the overlap with a man advantage when Ben Johnston crossed for a try converted by Jackson, but the Blues clung on to their lead and ensure it will be a winner takes all encounter against London Irish in the final pool match in December.
15. Ben Blair 4. Chris Czekaj 13. Tom Shanklin 12. Marc Stcherbina 11. Mosese Luveitasau 10. Nicky Robinson 9. Mike Phillips 8. Mark Lewis 7. Martyn Williams (C) 6. Scott Morgan 5. Robert Sidoli 4. Deiniol Jones 3. Gary Powell 2. T. Rhys Thomas 1. Gethin Jenkins Replacements 16. John Yapp 17. Duane Goodfield 18. Bradley Davies 19. Xavier Rush 20. Wayne Evans 21. Nick Macleod 22. David Flannigan