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Cardiff Blues (13) 27 - 11 (6) Leinster Rugby
Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff
Att: 10,320
Referee: Malcolm Changleng (SRU)
Friday, 11th May 2007, 19:10

Win or bust. That was the task facing Leinster as they arrived in Cardiff on a wet Friday. A bonus point win would seal it, but a win was vital to have hope of succeeding where they had come so close the previous year.

Cardiff provided a bleak welcome as it had been raining heavily for most of the day. Just before kick off however the clouds parted. A good omen? The next eighty minutes would reveal all.

As they have done so often on the road this season Leinster found themselves behind almost immediately with Sowden-Taylor crossed over within five minutes. The start was clearly a shock to the collective Leinster system, and captain Felipe Contepomi attempted to steady nerves by striking two penalties either side of a converted Ben Blair effort.

Leinster were only two points behind and were dominating possession and territory. The conditions underfoot were not conducive to flowing, attacking rugby however Cardiff had little trouble repelling the Leinster attack. Indeed it was Cardiff who scored next, and it was a try befitting the conditions with Gareth Williams driven over from a five-metre scrum. At half time Leinster trailed and had not scored a try, they knew it would take a mammoth effort in the second period.

If the watching crowd were expecting a Leinster onslaught from the off in the second half, they were in for a surprise. Instead, Cardiff did what they had done in the first and scored an early try. Nicky Robinson kicked across field and Chris Czekaj caught and fed Rhys Williams to score an excellent try.

Leinster heads were down and the night descended into farce when Shane Horgan, gathering the ball in his own half on the wing, attempted to chip the onrushing Marc Stcherbina. It was a poorly executed chip however, and simply fell into the Australian's hands and he cruised over to clinch a bonus point for the Blues. Leinster's hopes were in tatters with less than 15 minutes of the second half gone.

A brief glimmer of hope emerged as Horgan tried to atone for his earlier error. Breaking from midfield Horgan punted the ball upfield. Rhys Williams allowed the ball to squirm out of his control, and Horgan hacked the ball into the try area and dove on the ball. For a moment it looked as if he had knocked the ball on but referee Changleng got the thumbs up from the touch judge and the try was awarded.

All hope of a comeback was almost immediately dashed when Contepomi found himself sinbinned taking out Jamie Robinson in the air. The match was effectively over and the remaining minutes were played out in a cacophony of knock-ons and forced passes.

The match ended in victory for Cardiff and to the odd dissatisfaction of all in attendance. Leinster knew that they had come short on the final day yet again, and Cardiff knew that they had effectively handed the League Title to the Ospreys, who would be presented their trophy the following day in Galashiels.

leinsterfans.com Man of the Match: Gordon D'Arcy

Match Stats
  Cardiff Blues vs Leinster Rugby
Tries Sowden-Talylor
G. Williams
R. Williams
Stcherbina
  Horgan
Conversions Robinson (2)    
Penalties Blair   Contepomi (2)
Sin-Bin     Contepomi
Teams Ben Blair
15 Girvan Dempsey
Rhys Williams
14 Rob Kearney
Jamie Robinson 13 Shane Horgan
Marc Stcherbina 12 Gordon D'Arcy
Chris Czekaj 11 Denis Hickie
Nick Robinson 10 Felipe Contepomi (C)
Mike Phillips
9 Chris Whitaker
 
Gethin Jenkins
1 Reggie Corrigan
Gareth Williams
2 Bernard Jackman
Gary Powell
3 Will Green
Deiniol Jones
4 Trevor Hogan
Robert Sidoli
5 Malcolm O'Kelly
Scott Morgan
6 Stephen Keogh
Robin Sowden-Taylor
7 Keith Gleeson
Xavier Rush (C)
8 Jamie Heaslip
Replacements Scott Roberts
16 Stanley Wright
Rhys Thomas
17 Brian Blaney
Mark Lewis
18 Owen Finegan
Rhys Shellard
19 Cameron Jowitt
Wayne Evans
20 Guy Easterby
Nick Macleod
21 Christian Warner
Thom James
22 Luke Fitzgerald

by Sarah Lennon, © 2007-05-15

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