Friday 23 March 2018

Blues edge dour affair

Michael Aylwin

Cardiff 18

Edinburgh 17

Cardiff proved too good for Edinburgh in bursts, but it might be too painful to talk too much about the rest of it.

No one left the Cardiff City Stadium in too good a mood -- Cardiff because they were so bad and Edinburgh because they could not win, even so. The visitors lacked oomph with ball in hand. Only Tim Visser really has the presence to threaten big defences like Cardiff's, but they could not work him into the game.

Cardiff relied on the odd burst of pretty handling, the odd flash from Casey Laulala and a very timely yellow card from the referee. For all their superstars (even if a fair few of them are reaching the more mature stage of their careers), Cardiff were a fair shambles for the first half-hour.

Dan Parks, the wandering Aussie, late of Glasgow, now of Cardiff, missed three penalties -- very unlike him. Edinburgh snatched whatever chances came their way and rattled up a 10-point lead. Chris Paterson slotted an early penalty, and when Rhys Thomas overthrew an insane ball to the tail of a defensive lineout, Mike Blair put Allan Jacobsen over.

Paterson was shown a yellow card for conceding Edinburgh's fifth penalty, and Parks finally found his mark, before the Blues finally found their rhythm. Dazzling hands down the left and then right had Chris Czekaj over for the try that brought Cardiff level.

Then more dazzling hands forced Edinburgh into conceding another penalty, which Parks slotted for a 13-10 lead at the break. The dourness of the contest was resumed after the break, with ever new depths of incompetence plumbed by both sides. Cardiff, in particular, were all fingers and thumbs.

It took until 10 minutes from time for the scoreboard to resume activity, when Cardiff broke out, and eventually Laulala was worked over in the corner. Parks could not convert, which nearly proved significant when David Blair suddenly found a hole and broke to the line, the ball whipped wide and Ben Cairns scoring.

Paterson converted and the Blues had a nervy final few minutes to negotiate. And they deserved them, every one.

Scorers -- Cardiff Blues: Czekaj, Laulala tries; Parks 2 pens, con. Edinburgh: Jacobsen, Cairns tries; Paterson 2 cons, pen.

Cardiff Blues: Blair; Halfpenny, Laulala, Shanklin (Hewitt 57), Czekaj; Parks, Rees; Jenkins (Yapp 53), R Thomas, Filise; Davies, Tito (capt, Jones 60); Molitika, M Williams, Rush.

Edinburgh: Paterson; Thomson, Cairns, Grove (King 55), Visser; D Blair, M Blair (Laidlaw 71); Jacobsen (Traynor 71), Ford (Kelly 71), Cross (Young 60); Macleod (Hamilton 62), McKenzie; Macdonald, Rennie (Talei 43), Grant (capt, Roberston 78).

Referee: R Poite (France)


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