Planet Rugby

Ulster miss their target

12th September 2008 21:06

Share:

Cardiff Blues escaped with a 16-15 win over Ulster in the Magners League on Friday, but visitors Ulster were left rueing several missed opportunities from the tee which could have swung the game their way.

The result, if not the patchy performance, eases the pressure on Blues coach Dai Young, criticised for putting out a weakened side which lost at the Ospreys in midweek.

The home side's only try came from Leigh Halfpenny, with BJ Botha and Isaac Boss crossing for Ulster, but Blair's kicking proved decisive as he claimed 11 points.

With three games - against the last three Magners League winners - in six days, Young was in an invidious position and opted to concentrate on the two home games.

After a draw last weekend with Leinster, victory in this one was essential.

The Blues played some expansive rugby in the opening minutes, with wing Halfpenny going close after a kick-and-chase. But after a calamitous 30 seconds which involved three loose passes and a charged-down kick, they seemed to opt for safety first.

However, the back-row moves close to the breakdown which gained ground against Leinster were being swallowed by the Ulstermen, who used good ball off the tail of a lineout to put new South African prop Botha over wide out.

For the rest of the first half the boot dominated, Blair kicking two penalties each side of a reply by Ulster fly-half Niall O'Connor.

Ulster's rampaging pack, which featured captain Rory Best leading by example, kept things tight.

And when home fly-half Nicky Robinson was off target with a second drop-goal attempt just before the interval, he was greeted with a volley of boos by the disgruntled Blues fans.

They were cheered by a break from Jamie Robinson to open the second period, but the centre's pass out of a tackle went behind the unmarked Halfpenny and into touch.

Slow ball was hampering the home backs and a careless pass by scrum-half Darren Allinson was grabbed by Ulster replacement Thomas Anderson, who set off on an 80-yard gallop towards the Blues line, only to be hauled down by the quicker Halfpenny.

Blair hit a post with a penalty as the Blues kept up the pressure and they were finally rewarded when Halfpenny took an inside pass from substitute fly-half Ceri Sweeney to go over under the posts. Blair converted.

Ireland wing Andrew Trimble showed fine hands to threaten on both sides of the field as Ulster fought back, but after a spell of sustained pressure scrum-half Boss shrugged off some feeble tackling for a try improved by Connor.

But Blair quickly slotted a penalty to regain the lead for the Blues and the home side held on in a nail-biting finale.

The scorers:

For Cardiff Blues:

Try: Halfpenny

Con: Blair

Pens: Blair 3

For Ulster:

Tries: Botha, Boss

Con: O'Connor

Pen: O'Connor

Cardiff Blues: 15 Ben Blair, 14 Leigh Halfpenny, 13 Jamie Robinson, 12 Gareth Thomas, 11 Chris Czekaj, 10 Nicky Robinson, 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Mark Lewis, 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Maama Molitika, 5 Paul Tito (c), 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Gary Powell, 2 T Rhys Thomas, 1 Gethin Jenkins.

Replacements: 16 John Yapp, 17 Gareth Williams, 18 Scott Morgan, 19 Andy Powell, 20 Jason Spice, 21 Ceri Sweeney, 22 Jamie Roberts.

Ulster: 15 Clinton Schifcofske, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Rob Dewey, 11 Timoci Nagusa, 10 Paddy Wallace, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Robbie Diack, 7 David Pollock, 6 Matt McCullough, 5 Ed O'Donoghue, 4 Ryan Caldwell, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Rory Best (c) 1 Justin Fitzpatrick.

Replacements: 16 Nigel Brady, 17 Tom Court, 18 Kieron Dawson, 19 Tom Anderson, 20 Cillian Willis, 21 Niall O'Connor, 22 Bryn Cunningham.

Referee: Alan Lewis (Ireland)

Assistant Referees: Hugh Watkins (Wales), Steve Edwards (Wales)

Television Match Official: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 29
Leicester Tigers vs WaspsLeicester Tigers vs Wasps Preview
Exeter vs SaracensExeter vs Saracens Preview
Sunday , November 30
London Irish vs GloucesterLondon Irish vs Gloucester Preview
London Welsh vs NorthamptonLondon Welsh vs Northampton Preview
Newcastle Falcons vs Sale SharksNewcastle Falcons vs Sale Sharks Preview
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South AfricaWales vs South Africa Preview
England vs AustraliaEngland vs Australia Preview
More International Match fixtures
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , December 5
Montpellier vs Bath19:45
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs EdinburghZebre vs Edinburgh Preview
Leinster vs OspreysLeinster vs Ospreys Preview
Connacht vs ScarletsConnacht vs Scarlets Preview
Sunday , November 30
Glasgow Warriors vs DragonsGlasgow Warriors vs Dragons Preview
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Thursday , December 4
La Rochelle vs Exeter19:45
Friday , December 5
Brive vs Oyonnax18:30
Grenoble vs Rovigo18:30
Newcastle vs Stade Francais20:00
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Toulon vs Clermont AuvergneToulon vs Clermont Auvergne Preview
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:30
Lyon vs Montpellier18:30
Toulouse vs Grenoble20:45
Sunday , November 30
Stade Francais vs Brive18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 28
Bath 25 - 6 HarlequinsBath vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 36 - 25 TrevisoCardiff Blues vs Treviso Report
Munster 21 - 20 UlsterMunster vs Ulster Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens 24 - 31 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Georgia 35 - 24 JapanGeorgia vs Japan Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Treviso 24 - 24 LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Report
Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
London Irish 23 - 33 BathLondon Irish vs Bath Report
Exeter 31 - 15 WaspsExeter vs Wasps Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 6 - 22 South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Report
England 28 - 9 SamoaEngland vs Samoa Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath933
2Northampton830
3Exeter828
4Saracens825
5Leicester Tigers821