Planet Rugby

Blues mounting late charge for title

27th April 2007 21:38

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Cardiff Blues maintained their late charge for the Magners League title with a convincing 14-41 win over the Borders on Friday at Netherdale.

Four tries in the first half saw them secure the bonus point, and they went on to score a further three in the second half to move into second in the table, just two points behind leaders Leinster with a game in hand.

Borders had given them a fright by snatching the lead with two tries in quick succession - but the Blues had the cutting edge when it mattered most.

The Welshmen made a storming start and it was no surprise when they surged ahead with a try after only five minutes.

A sequence of patient lead-up work which featured safe handling created the time and space for winger Mosese Luveitasau to glide over close to the corner. Nicky Robinson was wide with the conversion attempt.

The fired-up Blues stepped up their early momentum and stretched their lead when powerful Test centre Tom Shanklin took full advantage of slack defence to plunge over.

This time Robinson was accurate with the kick, leaving the Reivers with a massive task to get back into the contest.

To the delight of the success-starved home fans, the Borders battled gamely and were rewarded midway through the half when Scotland breakaway forward Kelly Brown snapped up an opportunist touchdown.

Veteran stand-off Gregor Townsend added the extra points to set up a tense approach to the interval.

Even better was to come for the Reivers - and Townsend in particular - on the half-hour mark as he darted in for another slick score.

Substitute Steve Jones gleefully stroked over the conversion to give his team a shock lead.

The local joy did not last long, however, as Shanklin barged his way through to complete his double and swing the momentum back in favour of the visitors.

And there was another dose of gloom a minute before the break when the speedy Luveitasau also made it a brace of tries - making sure of the precious bonus point in the process.

Borders were dealt an added blow two minutes after the restart as skipper Chris Cusiter went off with ankle problem, though it did not look serious.

The Blues turned on the power in the final quarter to add a penalty try and two Rhys Shellard scores - along with two Robinson goals.

The Scorers:

For Borders:

Tries: Townsend, Brown

Cons: Townsend, Jones

For Cardiff Blues:

Tries: Luveitasau 2, Shanklin 2, Shellard 2, Penalty

Cons: Robinson 3

The teams:

The Borders:15 Stuart Moffat, 14 Dougie Flockhart, 13 Garry Law, 12 Bryan Rennie, 11 Nick De Luca, 10 Gregor Townsend, 9 Chris Cusiter (c), 8 John Dalziel, 7 Kelly Brown, 6 Opeta Palepoi, 5 Craig Hamilton, 4 Stuart Grimes, 3 Ed Kalman, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Gavin Kerr.

Replacements: 16 Steve Scott, 17 Bruce Douglas, 18 Richie Vernon, 19 Andy Miller, 20 Rob Chrystie, 21 Scott Gray.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Nick Macleod, 14 Rhys Williams, 13 Jamie Robinson, 12 Tom Shanklin (c), 11 Mosese Luveitasau, 10 Nicky Robinson, 9 Ed Fairhurst, 8 Mark Lewis, 7 Robin Sowden-Taylor, 6 Andy Powell, 5 Scott Morgan, 4 Deiniol Jones, 3 Gary Powell, 2 Rhys Thomas, 1 Gethin Jenkins.

Replacements: 16 Scott Roberts, 17 Gareth Williams, 18 Bradley Davies, 19 Rhys Shellard, 20 Mike Phillips, 21 Dafydd Hewitt, 22 Tom Riley.

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)

Touch judges: David Changleng (Scotland), Jim Yuille (Scotland)

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