Planet Rugby

Blues cruise in Italy

11th October 2008 15:26

Share:

Ben Blair

Leader: Cardiff Blues star Ben Blair bosses proceedings in Italy

Cardiff Blues signalled their Heineken Cup intent by notching up a 56-20 victory over Calvisano on Saturday, putting eight tries past the brave but limited Italians at Centro Sportivo San Michele.

Blues coach Dai Young had been mindful to talk up Calvisano in the build-up to his game, yet it seemed he had to reiterate his message over half-time oranges with his side nursing a slender 18-13 lead.

The locals, wearing jerseys fit for duty on the Tour de France, summoned up the spirit of Montauban in the first 40 minutes of their European campaign, standing firm in defence and punishing the visitors for extended bouts of navel-gazing.

The first half ended at one try apiece and a buzz of expectation began to whir around the sun-kissed ground during the break - could Calvisano score a third Heineken Cup victory in the side's 37th European outing?

Alas, it was not to be.

What must have been a royal rollocking from Young during the interval paid handsome dividends. Inspired by their world-class generals - Ben Blair, Martyn Williams and Tom Shanklin - the Blues exploded into the second half and pocketed the bonus point in the 51st minute of the game.

Cardiff didn't look back from that point on. Although Calvisano worked their captain Leonardo Ghiraldini over in the corner, two more tries from the visitors sealed the Italian job.

Cardiff opened their account when Maama Molitika galloped through two tackles to score on nine minutes after Gareth Thomas had stretched Calvisano out wide.

Blair missed the conversion and moments later the Blues were reduced to 14 men for the first time when Deiniol Jones was shown the yellow card for his high tackle on fly-half Gerard Fraser, who picked himself up to convert the resulting penalty.

Despite being a man down, it was Cardiff who extended their lead during the 10-minute spell. Blair kicked a penalty before Alessandro Zanni deliberately blocked Jamie Robinson from racing onto a kick from Cardiff pressure on their own goal line, and French referee awarded a penalty try.

Blair converted and Cardiff appeared to be on course for a comfortable win at 15-3 ahead, but Australian loose forward Justin Purll picked a hole in their close-quarter defence and stormed in from 25 yards out to bring the home crowd to life.

Fraser converted and Calvisano confidence grew as Jamie Robinson was ruled to have fouled during the build-up to the try, and was the second Cardiff player into the sin-bin in the half.

Blair and Paul Griffin exchanged penalties to leave the Blues 18-13 ahead at the break.

That was as close as Calvisano got as the Blues steadied the ship and produced some devastating attacking rugby, helped by some horrendous Italian defending.

Jason Spice got Cardiff on track just three minutes into the second half when he latched onto a clever long pass from hooker Rhys Thomas's line-out. Gareth Thomas was again provider moments later when Shanklin brought up the bonus point.

Blair raced onto Robinson's delightful floated inside pass on 51 minutes before the fly-half scored a deserved try himself, the pick of the bunch after Andy Powell's initial break.

Ghiraldini grabbed the consolation score just after an hour to reduce the damage on the scoreboard. But Tom Shanklin put 19-year-old Leigh Halfpenny over in the corner before Thomas grabbed the easiest score of his long career after Calvisano lost possession behind their own goal line.

The scorers:

For Calviano:

Tries: Purll, Ghiraldini

Cons: Fraser, Raineri

Pens: Fraser, Griffen

For Cardiff Blues:

Tries: Molitika, Penalty Try, Spice, Shanklin, Blair, Robinson, Halfpenny, Thomas.

Cons: Blair 5

Pens: Blair 2

Yellow card(s): D Jones (Cardiff Blues) - dangerous tackle, 16; Roberts (Cardiff Blues) - killing the ball, 33

The teams:

Calvisano: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Daniele Forcucci, 13 Andrea Pratichetti, 12 Matteo Pratichetti, 11 Ludovico Nitoglia, 10 Gerard Fraser, 9 Paul Griffen, 8 Justin Purll, 7 Aaron Persico, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Peter Sidoli, 4 Valerio Bernabo, 3 Ben Evans, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini (c), 1 Hoani Tui.

Replacements: 16 Alister McKenzie, 17 Alejandro Moreno, 18 David dal Maso, 19 Maurizio Zaffiri, 20 Pino Patelli, 21 Nanni Raineri, 22 Marko Stanojevic.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Ben Blair, 14 Leigh Halfpenny, 13 Jamie Robinson, 12 Tom Shanklin, 11 Gareth Thomas, 10 Nicky Robinson, 9 Jason Spice, 8 Andy Powell, 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Maama Molitika, 5 Paul Tito (c), 4 Deiniol Jones, 3 Gary Powell, 2 T Rhys Thomas, 1 Gethin Jenkins.

Replacements: 16 Taufa'ao Filise, 17 Gareth Williams, 18 Scott Morgan, 19 Robin Sowden-Taylor, 20 Richie Rees, 21 Ceri Sweeney, 22 Jamie Roberts.

Referee: Rob Debney (England)

Touch judges: Tim Wigglesworth (England), Alan Biggs (England)

Television match official: Dave Matthews (England)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
International Match
Saturday , November 1
Barbarians vs Australia14:30
USA vs New Zealand20:50
More International Match fixtures
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale SharksClermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks Preview
Castres vs LeinsterCastres vs Leinster Preview
Wasps vs HarlequinsWasps vs Harlequins Preview
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92 Preview
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
LV= Cup
Saturday , November 1
Sale Sharks vs Wasps14:00
Exeter vs Gloucester15:00
Bath vs London Welsh15:00
London Irish vs Leicester15:00
Northampton vs Newcastle16:00
More LV= Cup fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 31
Leinster vs Edinburgh19:35
Ospreys vs Connacht19:35
Glasgow vs Benetton Treviso19:35
Saturday , November 1
Cardiff Blues vs Munster17:15
Scarlets vs Zebre18:00
Ulster vs Newport Gwent D'gons19:35
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 1
Lyon vs Toulouse14:45
Racing Metro Paris vs Oyonnax18:30
La Rochelle vs Montpellier18:30
Brive vs Castres18:30
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Bayonne vs Clermont Auvergne20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Saturday , October 25
Ulster 13 - 23 ToulonUlster vs Toulon Report
Bath 19 - 21 ToulouseBath vs Toulouse Report
Montpellier 13 - 15 GlasgowMontpellier vs Glasgow Report
Northampton 34 - 6 OspreysNorthampton vs Ospreys Report
Scarlets 15 - 3 LeicesterScarlets vs Leicester Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Rovigo 18 - 33 Cardiff Blues
Oyonnax 15 - 25 Gloucester
Exeter 33 - 13 Connacht
Bucuresti 9 - 13 Stade Francais
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Western Province 19 - 16 LionsWestern Province vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Taranaki 36 - 32 TasmanTaranaki vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster 14 - 3 SaracensMunster vs Saracens Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Grenoble 15 - 25 London Irish
La Rochelle 25 - 13 Bayonne
Newport Gwent D'gons 26 - 30 Newcastle
Brive 21 - 26 Zebre
Edinburgh 25 - 17 LOU Rugby
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh 20 - 52 Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
International Match
Saturday , October 18
Australia 28 - 29 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More International Match results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615