Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Win lifts Cardiff morale

Alex Cuthbert went over for a try for Cardiff

Cardiff Blues grabbed a vital 29-12 victory over RaboDirect PRO12 rivals Edinburgh to boost morale before the Heineken Cup begins next weekend.

However, the Scottish side - whose points all came from Greig Laidlaw's kicks - showed little sign of ending their current misery.

A surprisingly large 7,245 turned out for this Sunday afternoon fixture and the majority, along with relieved home coach Phil Davies, will have gone home happy.

Despite the pressure created by unsuccessful starts to the season, both sides displayed a welcome sense of adventure in perfect conditions, even if the first points came from Leigh Halfpenny's boot.

The Lions star missed a second penalty attempt before Edinburgh scrum-half Laidlaw, fit again to make his first start of the season, slotted over a 50-yard effort to level the scores, promptly repeating the feat from almost as far.

Despite the early ambition and fine intentions, the match was in danger of becoming a battle of the kickers, Halfpenny equalising from in front, but suddenly a length-of-the-field move by the Blues brought a brilliant try for Alex Cuthbert.

A poor pass by number eight Andries Pretorius almost wrecked things at the start, but it was rescued by Harry Robinson and Owen Williams, who took play to the Scottish 22. The ball was recycled and Samoan lock Filo Paulo was up with play to give the winger the final pass.

Halfpenny converted superbly from the touchline, but Laidlaw landed another two penalties to keep his team in touch at the interval.

Both sides lost centres to injury in the first half. Edinburgh saw Ben Atiga depart, clutching a hand, but replacement Matt Scott added a new dimension to their attack, mixing dinks and darts to dangerous effect.

The Blues, however, lost Owen Williams, their most threatening back early on, although his departure allowed Dafydd Hewitt to make his 100th appearance for the region.

Laidlaw showed fallibility in striking a post with a penalty on the resumption but Edinburgh kept the pressure on the Blues line and, after an interminable check by the TMO, their debut-making Argentinian flanker Tomas Leonardi had a try ruled out, seemingly for a double movement.

Halfpenny capitalised on the let-off with a penalty that just crept over the bar, but left no doubt with two more within five minutes, the last offence seeing Edinburgh's replacement lock, Cornell due Preez, given a yellow card for killing the ball.

The Blues, fired up by the arrival of substitute number eight Robin Copeland, then produced a fantastic handling movement which took the ball across the field twice as they sped from their own 22, Cuthbert finishing it by dotting down under the posts for Halfpenny to add the extras.

Cuthbert then popped up in midfield to crash over for what would have been a hat-trick score, but TMO Gareth Simmonds ruled that he had been held up by his namesake, Edinburgh full-back Jack.

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