Planet Rugby

Blues warm up well for Toulouse

28th March 2008 21:30

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Edinburgh's faint Magners League title dream evaporated on Friday as they were brushed aside 20-0 by the Cardiff Blues at Murrayfield.

The Gunners had gone into battle needing a win to keep alive their quest to bring a first Magners League championship to Scotland.

But they were always second best to a visiting outfit who were clearly inspired by Wales' Grand Slam triumph and their Heineken Cup quarter-final in Toulouse next weekend.

The opening quarter had been a war of attrition with the sides sounding each other out.

That 20-minute spell also featured mistakes galore - but it was Cardiff who suddenly clicked into gear.

They broke the deadlock with a pinpoint penalty by Ben Blair midway through the half.

And two tries in the space of seven minutes swung the contest decisively in favour of the Blues.

First, Tom James was in the right place at the right time to finish clinically in the wake of a series of patient phases, with skipper Xavier Rush in the thick of things.

Then Jamie Roberts struck following a defensive disaster on the part of the hosts.

Roberts appeared to be marshalled by Hugo Southwell and Ben Cairns when he received the ball close to the touchline.

But Southwell's initial challenge was brushed off with contempt and Cairns' attempt to reel in the winger from behind never looked like succeeding.

Blair failed in his bid to double his conversion tally, but Cardiff were delighted to reach the interval 15 points ahead.

Edinburgh looked more purposeful after the restart but they were up against a superbly-drilled Arms Park outfit.

Simon Webster had a great chance to narrow the gap but he was felled by a crunching tackle from Tom Shanklin.

John Houston was then blocked inches short of the line following a quickly-taken tap penalty by Mike Blair.

Having weathered the early second-half storm, Cardiff began to reassert their superiority and Roberts went close to notching his double.

They kept up the momentum and effectively sealed the fate of the Gunners with another excellent touchdown from James.

Again the build-up was composed and secure before the time and space was created for James to scorch through, taking advantage of the committed markers.

It was then a question of Cardiff's ability to earn a crucial bonus point with a fourth try but they fell short.

The scorers:

For Cardiff Blues:

Tries: James 2, Roberts

Con: Blair

Pen: Blair

Edinburgh: 15 Hugo Southwell, 14 Simon Webster, 13 Ben Cairns, 12 Nick De Luca, 11 John Houston, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Mike Blair, 8 David Callam, 7 Allister Hogg (c), 6 Simon Cross, 5 Craig Hamilton, 4 Matt Mustchin, 3 Craig Smith, 2 Andrew Kelly, 1 Gavin Kerr.

Replacements: 16 Steve Lawrie, 17 Augusto Allori, 18 Fergus Pringle, 19 Ben Gissing, 20 Ben Meyer, 21 Calum MacRae, 22 Andrew Turnbull.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Ben Blair, 14 Jamie Roberts, 13 Tom Shanklin, 12 Gareth Thomas, 11 Tom James, 10 Dai Flannigan, 9 Jason Spice, 8 Xavier Rush, 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Mamma Molitika, 5 Paul Tito, 4 Deiniol Jones, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Gareth Williams, 1 Gethin Jenkins.

Replacements: 16 John Yapp, 17 T Rhys Thomas, 18 Scott Morgan, 19 Ben White, 20 Richie Rees, 21 Nicky Robinson, 22 Marc Stcherbina.

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)

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