Match report: Blues edge out Ospreys in season opener
August 31, 2007
Cardiff Blues kicked off their Magners Celtic League campaign with a narrow 17-15 victory over Welsh rivals the Ospreys at the Arms Park.
Ospreys' fly-half Shaun Connor missed a penalty with the final kick of the game as Cardiff clung on to set a new league record of 16 successive home wins.
Despite the absence of 18 stars on World Cup duty - including a dozen from the Ospreys - a crowd of 9,187 turned out to see a dramatic, hard-fought battle, even if there was little in the way of scintillating play.
Early Blues pressure brought an easy penalty for Nicky Robinson but it was opposite number Connor's boot which dominated the rest of the first period.
His 50-yard penalty brought the scores level before Blues wing Rhys Williams was controversially adjudged to have been ahead of Robinson's kick downfield and Connor launched an immense effort from wide out on the halfway line, which bounced on the crossbar and went over.
Referee Tim Hayes then had to lecture the Blues new Kiwi recruits, Paul Tito and former Osprey Jason Spice, following a midfield brawl.
Tito's legal activity was winning the home side a steady supply of lineout ball but the Ospreys had their share of territory and deserved to extend their lead with a monster penalty by Connor from inside his own half.
The Blues hit back in first-half injury time, a crossfield move ending with flanker Maama Molitika passing for Rhys Williams to touch down.
Robinson failed to convert but he opened the second session with a further penalty.
After Ospreys prop Andrew Millward was sin-binned for slowing the Blues heel, Robinson added another penalty before Connor slotted one over from the centre spot to keep the Ospreys in touch.
Another superb long-range effort, this time by Robinson, kept the scoreboard moving, but the Blues fly-half was unlucky to see his next attempt hit the inside of the post only to fall back infield.
Robinson and Williams were each off target with snap drop goals, allowing Connor to kick another penalty from the halfway line.
The Ospreys were given the chance to grab a last-ditch victory when the Bluesbacks were penalised for obstruction but Connor, for once, skewed the ball wide.
Cardiff Blues (8) 17.
Ospreys (9) 15.
Cardiff Blues: Blair, R. Williams, Selley, Hewitt, J. Roberts, N. Robinson, Spice, Yapp, G. Williams, G. Powell, Jones, Tito, Molitika, Sowden-Taylor, Rush.
Replacements: Stcherbina, Macleod, Rees, S. Roberts, Johnson, Sidoli, Lewis.
Ospreys: Byrne, Terblanche, Taylor, A. Bishop, Brew, Connor, Marshall, James, Hibbard, A. Millward, A. Millward, Cockbain, Collins, Lloyd, Pugh, Tiatia.
Replacements: Vaughton, Spratt, Roberts, B. Williams, Griffiths, Powell, Lewis.
Referee: Tim Hayes (WRFU)