With Toulon having already beaten Scarlets and Connacht to book their tickets to Marseille, Cardiff Blues had the small task of ousting Wasps at Adams Park, if they were to reach their first European Challenge Cup final.
Wasps 15 Cardiff Blues 18
Saturday 1 May 2010, 6.00pm, Adams Park
Depsite being the first day of May, it was treacherous conditions in High Wycombe as Wasps went into the game on the back of 16 undefeated home games in Europe.
Captain Xavier Rush led from the front, making a total of 24 ball carries and playing a starring role throughout the 80 minutes.
A powerful run from the number eight almost put Ben Blair through for an early score, and the Kiwi full back uncharacteristically missed three shots at goal in the opening stages.
Dai Young’s side certainly had the upper hand - despite Dave Walder giving them a three point lead from the tee.
However, the pressure finally paved way for the game’s opening try. Rush took a quick tap from a scrum free-kick, squatting Joe Simpson aside before Tom Rees and Dan Ward-Smith combined to take the All Black down five meters out.
A couple of phases later, a long pass from T Rhys Thomas gave Leigh Halfpenny space on the right, and the wing made no mistake, skipping past Mark van Gisbergen and Phil Vickery to finish.
Two further penalties from Walder - and one from Blair - meant the hosts went into the interval with a single point lead, despite the visitors being firmly on top for most of the first half.
The duo exchanged penalties in the second half, but Wasps were reduced to 14 men as England lock, Simon Shaw, was sent to the sin bin for repeat infringements.
Cardiff Blues took full advantage of the numbers, as Gethin Jenkins powered his way over from close range to put his side back ahead.
Blair did convert this time, but there was to be a nervy ending for Wales’ Capital Region, as Scott Andrews was shown a yellow card.
Walder, who had succeeded with five from five kicks during the afternoon, had a golden opportunity to draw his side level with three minutes remaining, but his kicked drifted wide.
Wasps: Mark van Gisbergen; Paul Sackey, Ben Jacobs, Dominic Waldouck, David Lemi; Dave Walder, Joe Simpson; Tim Payne, Rob Webber, Phil Vickery, Simon Shaw, George Skivington, Joe Worsley, Tom Rees, Dan Ward-Smith
Replacements: Tom Farara-Lindsay, Ben Broster, Zak Taulafo, John Hart, Serge Betsen, Danny Cipriani, Steven Kefu, Tom Varndell
Cardiff Blues: Ben Blair; Leigh Halfpenny, Casey Laulala, Jamie Roberts, Chris Czekaj; Ceri Sweeney, Darren Allinson; Gethin Jenkins, T Rhys Thomas, Taufa’ao Filise, Deiniol Jones, Paul Tito, Ma’ama Molitika, Martyn Williams, Xavier Rush
Replacements: Gareth Williams, John Yapp, Scott Andrews, Bradley Davies, Sam Warburton, Dai Flanagan, Dafydd Hewitt, Richard Mustoe
Cardiff Blues kicked off their Heineken Champions Cup campaign with a stunning victory at Lyon, and will return to the Arms Park to take on Glasgow Warriors on Sunday.
Be there to support the boys! Tickets are available now and can be purchased by clicking here or calling 029 20 302030.