Blues win Biarritz battle
Backs to the wall stuff enough for Welsh side in France
Last Updated: 13/12/08 5:52pm
Powell: Powering through mud
Cardiff Blues produced a stirring defensive display to earn a 10-6 victory at Biarritz to take control of Heineken Cup Pool Six.
Jamie Robinson scored the only try of the game after 12 minutes and, along with Ben Blair's conversion and penalty, that proved to be enough to take the victory.
Although in the second half the Parc des Sports Aguilera in the South of France resembled the Alamo for Cardiff, their manful defence kept the French side out to earn a welcome second-half shut-out.
After a scrappy opening, Blair settled Cardiff down when he booted a fine penalty over from just inside the Biarritz half after ten minutes.
Barely two minutes later and Cardiff had crossed the line for the game's only try, which came courtesy of Benjamin Thiery's poor attempted clearance.
The full-back was put under pressure by Gareth Thomas after a Cardiff kick down the line, and when Thiery's scuffed effort rebounded off Thomas' knees, Robinson was there to slide on the ball as it bobbled into the in-goal area.
Blair converted for 10-0, but after that excitement the game settled down again to a physical forward battle and kicking exchange between the two teams.
The hosts started to exert more pressure in the last ten minutes of the half, with Damien Traille kicking a penalty before Thiery then got away with another bad kick being charged down.
Nicky Robinson then had his kick charged and Cardiff had to concede a penalty despite recovering the loose ball - with Julien Peyrelongue this time hitting the target to reduce the arrears to 10-6.
Peyrelongue hit the post with a late penalty, which was very kickable, and Cardiff managed to see out the last three minutes to go in at the break 10-6 ahead.
Biarritz came storming out after the break and proceeded to camp out in Cardiff territory, with the forwards taking ball-after-ball when creeping up to the line, but the Blues held them up as the French pack finally drove over.
It was constant pressure from Biarritz, but the admirable Blues defence kept out wave after wave of attacks, with the hosts having to resort to a drop-goal on the hour - which was missed.
After 25 minutes of solid defence, Cardiff finally got into the Biarritz half after Leigh Halfpenny's brave dummy on his own goal line and a kick downfield led to a scrum, but a tired Blues side could not conjure up a meaningful attack.
It was more even for the final 15 minutes, but still the Blues defence had to work hard time after time and, in the end, their tenacity kept the second half scoreless and sealed a precious - and rare - win on French soil.