Planet Rugby

Blues alive after crushing Quins

24th January 2010 17:06

Share:

James Percival Taufau Filise

Over and Out: James Percival is brought down at the Stoop

Cardiff Blues' Heineken Cup dream may be over for another season but an emphatic 45-20 victory over Harlequins at the Stoop on Sunday means they at least remain in European competition.

The Welsh side drop into the Amlin Challenge Cup, the continent's second-tier tournament, at the expense of Sale Sharks, and full-back Ben Blair contributed 20 points with a try, a penalty and six conversions.

The game settled the final line-up for the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals:

Connacht v Bourgoin
Toulon v Scarlets
London Wasps v Gloucester
Newcastle Falcons v Cardiff Blues

Cardiff knew they still had a chance to keep their European campaign alive and started with a strong line-up, but Harlequins stunned the visitors with a try after only 70 seconds as George Lowe raced in wide on the left after being set-up by David Strettle. The conversion attempt was missed by Evans.

It took Cardiff seven minutes to launch their first effective attack, and it could have been rewarded with points had scrum-half Richie Rees not delayed his pass to the left wing. The move broke down shortly after when they were penalised for not releasing.

Quins increased their lead in the 11th minute when Rory Clegg boomed over a penalty from near halfway. Cardiff missed their first kick at goal a minute later when Blair's 35-yard attempt sailed wide.

However, once their pack got up a head of steam in a driving maul, Quins were driven backwards and when Rees fired the ball to the right Gareth Thomas crossed the line unopposed after 15 minutes, with Blair converting.

Quins were struggling again as Cardiff turned up the heat through their rampaging pack and had to concede consecutive penalties on their line to survive. It did not last.

When the half-backs worked the ball left, Casey Laulala's wonderfully timed pass armed Blair to score Cardiff's second try on 20 minutes, with Blair also adding the conversion.

England number eight Nick Easter touched down for Harlequins in the 24th minute, put in by Danny Care after a battering burst by Chris Brooker, with Clegg missing the conversion. But once they regained possession, Cardiff were back camped in the home team's 22.

The pressure had to tell and when Ceri Sweeney finished off another tremendous build-up - again involving Laulala, Blair's conversion put the Welsh in the driving seat, and they fastened their seat-belts when Easter conceded a stupid penalty and was sin-binned by Irish referee George Clancy.

Quins' demolition seemed complete when Xavier Rush rounded off another multi-phased attack with a try on the right, and Blair made it four conversions out of four. But with their first decent piece of ball in an age, Quins struck on 39 minutes.

Chris Robshaw tapped down a lineout and Care scampered clear up to the left for a try Clegg converted from a difficult angle.

Blair missed two penalties in the first six minutes of the second half, lapses that clearly lifted the home side, who welcomed Easter back from the bin.

But a fifth try for Blues on 49 minutes, scored with pace and power between the posts by Lions centre Jamie Roberts, and converted by Blair, took the visitors 15 points clear. That gap was extended further when Blair punished offside with a penalty after 57 minutes.

Try number six sparked a mass exodus of disenchanted home fans as Gary Powell shook off three poor tackles before sending Roberts clear for his second try, and Blair kicked his sixth conversion out of six.

The scorers:

For Harlequins:
Tries: Lowe, Easter, Care
Cons: Thomas, Blair, Sweeney, Rush, Roberts 2
Pen: Clegg
Drops: Clegg

For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Thomas, Blair, Sweeney, Rush, Roberts 2
Cons: Blair 6
Pen: Blair

Yellow card(s): Easter (Harlequins) - off-side, 33.

The teams:

Harlequins:15 Nick Evans, 14 David Strettle, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Rory Clegg, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Will Skinner, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Lewis Stevenson, 4 James Percival, 3 John Andress, 2 Chris Brooker, 1 Ceri Jones.
Replacements:16 Aston Croall, 17 Joe Marler, 18 James Johnston, 19 Tom Guest, 20 Neil McMillan, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Nils Mordt, 23 George Lowe.

Cardiff Blues15 Ben Blair, 14 Leigh Halfpenny, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tom James, 10 Ceri Sweeney, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Xavier Rush, 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Andy Powell, 5 Deiniol Jones, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Faao Filise, 2 Gareth Williams, 1 Gethin Jenkins (c).
Replacements:16 T Rhys Thomas, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Gary Powell, 19 Paul Tito, 20 Ben White, 21 Gareth Cooper, 22 Sam Norton-Knight, 23 Tom Shanklin.

Referee: George Clancy
Assistant referees: Alan Rogan (Ireland), Jude Quinn (Ireland)

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