London Irish 15-22 Cardiff Blues, Heineken Cup
Baber impressed by Cardiff's focus
January 14, 2012
Sam Warburton scored Cardiff's only try at the Madejski stadium © Getty Images
Cardiff Blues coach Gareth Baber was pleased with his side's focus as they moved a giant step closer to Heineken Cup quarter-final qualification.
The Welsh side marked their 100th Heineken Cup match with a tight 22-15 victory at London Irish, with Sam Warburton's second half try complementing a fine Leigh Halfpenny kicking display. Having seen fellow Pool 2 pace-setters Edinburgh win away to Racing Metro yesterday, the Welsh side responded in the perfect manner at the Madejski Stadium and backs coach Baber was proud of his side's attitude.
"The game last night did focus the mind somewhat," he said after the match. "You can't avoid it but our whole focus this week has been making sure we control what we are doing irrespective what is happening outside of our environment.
"That extended to last night and what happened in Paris so we're pleased that we kept that focus. We certainly kept it through the game today and came away with the victory."
Cardiff face Racing Metro in the final Pool 2 match next weekend as they look to reach the knock-out stages for the first time since the 2008-09 season. The Blues are well placed after today's result, which saw them complete the double against the Exiles after winning the reverse fixture in November.
"It's never easy against them," Baber said of Irish. "When we played them at home even though they were down to 14 men they pressurised us and created a game that tested us defensively.
"There were stages in the game today when they did exactly the same, but I thought we controlled the field when we needed to today. There was a bit of brilliance in the second half from Casey Laulala, which was finished off by Sam Warburton and you saw a good team performance in managing the game and getting the victory, not least down to Leigh Halfpenny and his kicking."
While the Blues can reach the knock-out stages, the result ended London Irish's slim hopes of progress from the pool. Exiles head coach Toby Booth marked 10 years at the club today but was left frustrated by the outcome in Reading.
"It was a competitive match and that has been the story of this whole pool," he said. "We're obviously disappointed to be on the wrong side of a result but there was a key moment in the game that they scored the try from.
"It proved decisive and Cardiff defended very well. I thought we defended very well too. It was a tight, tight game and that has probably been the story of the Heineken Cup in this group.
"I am not disappointed with the effort, although I am obviously disappointed with the outcome. On reflection, we have been in every contest and have a new group of players with little Heineken Cup experience.
"They will be better for this experience, although that does not hide the disappointment of where we are now."
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