Planet Rugby

Blues rampant in Chrstmas derby

27th December 2009 20:06

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Tom Shanklin cardiff flu

Tom Shanklin: Well and truly back

Cardiff Blues left any Heineken Cup hangover firmly behind them with a 42-13 win over the Dragons in the Magners League on Sunday.

The Blues scored five tries in a scintillating second half to come back from a 13-3 half-time deficit.

Newport Gwent Dragons began the day as the leading Welsh region in the Magners League, with a mathematical chance of going top.

A 13-3 lead at the interval reflected their superiority over a lacklustre, ham-fisted Blues line-up, but whatever coach David Young said in the dressing room brought an incredible 39 points without reply as the Blues thrilled a 15,210 crowd with their biggest win at the new Cardiff City Stadium.

The Blues were the first to threaten and after Ben Blair had struck a post with a penalty, the New Zealander succeeded with an easier effort to give the home side the lead.

It did not last. Dragons full-back Jason Tovey was off target from long range, but his team were soon in front, speedy wing Aled Brew popping up in midfield to capitalise on spilt Blues' possession and race to the corner.

Fly-half James Arlidge converted off an upright and extended the Dragons' lead with a penalty, but the Japan international also missed two easy kicks, one for an offence at the breakdown which earned Blues hooker Rhys Thomas 10 minutes in the sin bin.

The Blues had an opportunity to get back into the game as they pressurised the Dragons' line, but ignored a posse of unmarked backs as the forwards battered fruitlessly at the whitewash.

Their wastefulness was punished in the final seconds of the half when Tovey gathered an aimless clearance kick by Blues fly-half Sam Norton-Knight to drop a goal from 45 yards.

It was the Dragons' last success. The Blues went up several gears on the restart and within eight minutes they were ahead.

Scrum-half Richie Rees ran a penalty from deep in his own half and Blair claimed the points when the Dragons infringed again.

Then a flowing move down the right ended with big lock Bradley Davies charging over. Blair converted and added a further penalty to level the scores.

A second Blues try soon followed. The Dragons' defence dithered beneath a high kick from Blair, the ball was allowed to bounce and cannoned to wing Richard Mustoe, who trotted in unopposed to give Blair an easy conversion.

The rampage continued when the lively Rees raced over from the base of a scrum, again without a hand laid on him as the shell-shocked Dragons crumbled under the onslaught.

Their mood was not improved when try-scorer Brew was yellow-carded, and Tom Shanklin emphasised the amazing change of fortunes when he followed up his own kick ahead to go under the posts for a fourth try. Blair again added the extras.

The final nail in the coffin came with a try in the left-hand corner by Tom James, who had had an earlier effort ruled out for dropping the ball. Blair missed the conversion, but that was of little consolation to the bedraggled and bewildered Dragons.

The scorers:

For the Blues:
Tries:Davies, Mustoe, Rees, Shanklin, James
Cons: Blair 4
Pens: Blair 3

For the Dragons:
Try: Brew
Con: Arlidge
Pen: Arlidge
Drop goal: Tovey

Cardiff Blues: 15 Ben Blair, 14 Richard Mustoe, 13 Tom Shanklin, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tom James, 10 Sam Norton-Knight, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Xavier Rush, 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Sam Warburton, 5 Scott Morgan, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Taufa'au Filise, 2 T Rhys Thomas, 1 Gethin Jenkins (c).
Replacements: 16 Gareth Williams, 17 Gary Powell, 18 Paul Tito, 19 Andy Powell, 20 Gareth Cooper, 21 Ceri Sweeney, 22 Gareth Thomas.

Dragons: 15 Jason Tovey, 14 Aled Brew, 13 Rhodri Gomer-Davies, 12 Tom Riley, 11 Richard Fussell, 10 James Arlidge, 9 Danny Lee, 8 Lewis Evans, 7 Gavin Thomas, 6 Joe Bearman, 5 Robert Sidoli, 4 Hoani MacDonald, 3 Patrick Palmer, 2 Tom Willis (Captain), 1 Hugh Gustafson.
Replacements: 16 Steve Jones, 17 Peter Bracken, 18 Adam Jones, 19 Grant Webb, 20 Will Harries, 21 Matthew Watkins, 22 Gareth Williams.

Referee: James Jones
Assistant referees: Hugh Watkins, Huw David
Television match official: Tony Rowlands

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