RaboDirect Pro12: Jamie Roberts signs off on a high in final home game for Cardiff Blues
Last Updated: 13/04/13 5:07pm
Jamie Roberts: Cardiff centre is joining Racin Metro next season
Cardiff Blues regained eighth place in the RaboDirect PRO12 table from Connacht thanks to a 28-13 victory over Zebre in a mud-fest at the Arms Park.
Tries from outside-half Rhys Patchell, and centres Gavin Evans and Jamie Roberts, coupled with two conversions and three penalties for a 13-point haul from Six Nations player of the tournament Leigh Halfpenny were enough to beat the Italian outfit.
It was the Welsh region's final home match of the campaign but the conditions meant it was near impossible to give the departing Roberts and Ceri Sweeney a Barbarian style send-off of running rugby. Lions and Wales centre star Roberts is joining French big spenders Racing Metro while former Wales outside-half Sweeney has signed for Exeter Chiefs.
Roberts crashed over for his touchdown late on as the Blues overtook Connacht who had passed them in the standings last night courtesy of a win over Edinburgh.
Zebre were game opponents but lacked the skill, power, pace and confidence to provide a serious challenge. Their only try, from substitute Filippo Cristiano, came in the final minute.
Former New South Wales Waratahs Super 15 ace Daniel Halangahu and Halfpenny exchanged early penalties before Cardiff took charge when back-row forward Michael Paterson picked off an opposition hooker Davide Giazzon's throw at a line-out for Patchell to squirm his way over.
The Blues began to assert their authority and the pressure they generated resulted in Halfpenny making it 13-3 in their favour with another not too demanding penalty.
Halangahu landed another penalty for Zebre before Halfpenny restored the Blues' 10-point advantage with a trademark long-range penalty strike after Giazzon failed to release after being tackled.
And it got better on the stroke of half-time when Patchell counter-attacked from deep and found Evans just inside a touchline. The centre accelerated and out-sprinted the cover for a runaway try to make it 21-6 in favour of the Blues.
Zebre had right-wing Leonardo Sarto sin-binned for attempting to trip Patchell while Halangahu was short with a long-range penalty attempt.
A magnificent leap and catch from Roberts when he chased an up-and-under from Halfpenny led to the Blues securing a penalty. They turned down a kick at goal and went for a try. Roberts was stopped just short of the line after sliding forward while right wing Owen Williams was bundled into touch near a corner flag.
Roberts eventually got over, Halfpenny adding the conversion, before Cristiano replied with a try converted by fellow replacement Alberto Chiesa.