Cardiff Blues scraped to a dour 15-9 win over Toulouse in their try-less Pool 5 Heineken Cup match at Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday.
Cardiff Blues scraped to a dour 15-9 win over Toulouse in their try-less Pool Five Heineken Cup match at Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday.
Four penalties from full-back Ben Blair and a late three-pointer from Leigh Halfpenny were enough for Cardiff to see off the three-time European champions.
A losing bonus-point for Toulouse was enough for the French club to stay at the top of the group, now just one point clear of Cardiff.
The rematch of last year's quarter final proved as unexciting an affair as last April's 'clash'.
Both teams, Toulouse especially, conspired to ruin their own opportunities with ill-timed handling errors and some poor decision making.
Kicking from deep was followed by little dinks and chips as both sides tried to turn the opposition defence around with their boots rather than their hands. An indication of the am mount of kicking going was the sight of Toulouse number eight Shaun Sowerby fielding punts at full-back…
Cardiff led 6-0 at the break but you could hardly say they deserved it as they never really threatened the Toulouse try-line. The visitors had done the majority of playing but Cardiff had managed to feed off their mistakes.
Blair opened the scoring after nine minutes with neatly struck penalty and doubled the lead shortly before half-time. When he wasn't slotting three pointers, Blair was Cardiff's man of the hour as he made a crucial catch to deny a charging Yannick Jauzion from plucking a Fred Michalak bomb out the air in the first half's best scoring chance.
The second half started the way the first ended as Blair added his third penalty to give the hosts a 9-0 lead.
Toulouse centre Florian Fritz reduced the gap on 54 minutes with a long-range penalty of his own.
Cardiff seemed wholly unable to create scoring opportunities by moving the ball through their hands. Even Sam Norton Knight's drop goal attempts sailed wide as the visitors' mistakes at the ruck provided the only occasions for points.
Blair added his fourth penalty from one such infringement with fifteen minutes to play, opening up a nine-point gap in the process.
Toulouse continued to test the Cardiff defence and were rewarded with a penalty which Fred Michalak converted, before replacement fly-half David Skrela popped over a cheeky drop goal on 72 minutes to set up a tight finish.
But a penalty from Halfpenny, from 45m out, sealed the deal for the home side in the final minute.
Pens: Blair 4, Halfpenny
Cardiff Blues: 15 Ben Blair, 14 Leigh Halfpenny, 13 Tom Shanklin, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tom James, 10 Sam Norton Knight, 9 Gareth Cooper, 8 Xavier Rush, 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Andy Powell, 5 Paul Tito,4 Deiniol Jones, 3 Faao Filise, 2 Gareth Williams, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 T Rhys Thomas, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Gary Powell, 19 Scott Morgan, 20 Sam Warburton, 21 Richie Rees, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Dafydd Hewitt.
Toulouse: 15 Maxime Medard, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Yannick Jauzion, 11 Cedric Heymans, 10 Fred Michalak, 9 Nicolas Bezy, 8 Shaun Sowerby, 7 Louis Picamoles, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (capt), 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Romain Millo-Chluski, 3 Census Johnston, 2 William Servat, 1 Yohan Montes.
Replacements: 16 Virgil Lacombe, 17 Daan Human, 18 Jean-Baptiste Poux, 19 Gregory Lamboley, 20 Yoann Maestri, 21 Jean Bouilhou, 22 Clement Poitrenaud, 23 Yves Donguy.
Venue: Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon