Following earlier victories over Bristol, Stade Francais and Harlequins in the 2007/08 Heineken Cup pool stage, Dai Young's side knew they needed a win at Memorial Ground to qualify for the Heineken Cup quarter final.
Bristol 0 Cardiff Blues 17
Saturday 20 Jan 2008, 3.00pm, Memorial Ground, Bristol
The hosts’ squad contained a number of familiar faces, including outside half, Jason Strange, who is the current Cardiff Blues backs coach, and on the bench, Gareth Llewellyn, capped 92-times for Wales and father to Cardiff Blues academy’s Max.
It was a wet and windy afternoon in the West Country, however, the visitors were up for the occasion, and despite an early disallowed try for Bristol’s Luke Arscott, Cardiff Blues were in control of the game by half time.
Both Jamie Roberts and Martyn Williams had scores ruled out, but it was third time lucky for Wales’ Capital Region, as Ma’ama Molitika pounced on a loose ball from a Bristol scrum to open the scoring.
Ben Blair converted, and his side made it a quickfire double to take a commanding 14-point lead into half time.
Williams’ thumping tackle on hooker Mark Regan won a turnover penalty, and Nick MacLeod kicked for territory, finding touch inside the hosts’ 22.
Strong carries from Jason Spice and Xavier Rush sucked the Bristol defenders into the breakdown battle, which eventually created space on the blindside for Gareth Thomas, who spotted a mismatch, and powered past Sean Hohneck to touch down in the corner. Blair converted once again.
Young’s side continued to pin Bristol back during the second half, and managed to extend their lead through a Blair penalty.
There was no bonus point victory, however, meaning the Blues would be on the road for the knockout stage, where they would eventually fall to a strong Toulouse side at Stade Municipal.
Bristol: Luke Arscott; Tom Arscott, Rob Higgitt, Neil Brew, Anthony Elliott; Jason Strange, Brian O’Riordan; Alex Clarke, Mark Regan, Jason Hobson, Roy Winers, Sean Hohneck, Matt Salter, Alfie To’oala Vaeluaga, Andrew Blowers
Replacements: Scott Linklater, Darren Crompton, Gareth Llewellyn, Joe El Abd, Graeme Beveridge, David Hill, Sam Cox
Cardiff Blues: Ben Blair; Jamie Roberts, Tom Shanklin, Gareth Thomas, Jamie Robinson; Nick Macleod, Jason Spice; Gethin Jenkins, Gareth Williams, Taufa’ao Filise, Deiniol Jones, Paul Tito, Ma’ama Molitika, Martyn Williams, Xavier Rush
Replacements: Gary Powell, T Rhys Thomas, Mark Lewis, Scott Morgan, Richie Rees, Geraint Rhys Jones, Tal Selley