Cardiff Blues 19 - 21 Edinburgh: Greig Laidlaw leaves it late to seal win
GREIG Laidlaw coolly slotted a drop goal from in front of the posts to give Edinburgh a narrow win on the night Cardiff Blues returned to Cardiff Arms Park.
Cardiff Blues: Try - A Cuthbert; Con - L Halfpenny; Pens: Halfpenny (4).
Edinburgh: Tries - T Visser, penalty try; Con - G Laidlaw; Pens - Laidlaw 2; Drop goal - Laidlaw.
Cardiff Blues celebrated the return to their spiritual home of the Arms Park with bands, stilt-walkers and fire-eaters, but it was Scotland outside half Greig Laidlaw who proved to be hot stuff. He slotted the injury-time drop goal to claim victory, one that the visitors deserved but had made hard work of before managing to hold on at the end.
With left wing Tim Visser adding to his remarkable try scoring tally and the forwards earning a penalty try, it still came down to the boot of Laidlaw to get his side over the line and claim a first victory of the season – an injury to home kicker Leigh Halfpenny meaning they missed chances of their own at the end.
Edinburgh had won the last game Cardiff played at the Arms Park before their ill-fated move to the Cardiff City Stadium, where Edinburgh also were victorious in the first encounter there. It was an unusual hat-trick the Scots completed by winning this one too.
Coach Michael Bradley would have been delighted with the number of opportunities his team were able to create, less happy with the number they were able to convert as the last pass or the last tackle seemed not to work out.
After the disappointment of an opening defeat at Murrayfield he would have been most pleased with a victory as Edinburgh look to improve their Rabo form from last season.
While there was plenty of razzmatazz for the home team taking the pitch, it was the Scots who started the stronger. They earned a scrum penalty after just three minutes which Laidlaw slotted from 35 yards out.
Edinburgh’s ambitious policy of spreading the ball wide with long passes behind the scrum nearly paid off shortly after, Nick De Luca held up over the line after his pass had put right wing Lee Jones one on one with Wales full back Leigh Halfpenny who was able to make the tackle.
The Blues did manage a Halfpenny penalty from a ruck offence on one of their rare visits to the Edinburgh half, but that stung the visitors into action.
Second row Sean Cox was the unlikely provider with a deft sleight of hand using flanker Roddy Grant for a dummy. That created the space for Tim Visser on the left wing and Halfpenny was not going to be able to stop him in the corner. It went to the TMO but there was not much doubt in neutral eyes.
After his hat-trick last week in the defeat to Munster, that took Visser’s remarkable try total to 41 tries in 59 matches in Celtic competition.
If Edinburgh showed the greater ambition in an entertaining first half, it did not show on the scoreboard. Laidlaw missed a penalty from close to the same spot as his opening successful kick, pulling his second effort to the left of the posts – Bill MacLaren would have described it as a hook.
The Blues always had the boot of Leigh Halfpenny and he added two late penalties from over 40 yards to give the Blues a one point lead at the break.
It was the bounce of a ball and a short in goal area that denied Edinburgh after the break, Visser kicking through only to watch the ball go too far.
Cardiff were under pressure in the scrum but No 8 Andries Pretorius was able to come away with the ball and turn defence into attack. Wing Tom James burst free with centre Gavin Evans in support but the Edinburgh defence was able to scramble back.
However, from that period of pressure they lost full back Greig Tonks to a yellow card for stealing the ball from a ruck and then right wing Alex Cuthbert was able to charge through the attempted tackle from visiting centre John Houston to score under the posts. Halfpenny converted.
Edinburgh clawed their way back closer with a Laidlaw penalty, but then James burst clear again, but once again was unable to use his support and it was Edinburgh’s turn to switch defence into attack as they kicked through to the Cardiff line.
Home flanker Josh Navidi killed the ball and went to the sin bin for his troubles, then Edinburgh turned on the power in the scrum and earned a penalty try, converted by Laidlaw to bring them back within a point.
The game continued to be incredibly open with both sides attacking from long range, without quite finishing off opportunities. However, Edinburgh had the better territory and when the forward kept pushing and the backs were not quite able to force their way over out wide, Laidlaw sat back in the pocket.
As he did several times last season, he coolly landed the kick, scooping it over the rushing defenders, and after a few more nail-biting minutes they were able to celebrate victory.
Cardiff Blues: L Halfpenny (R Patchell 65); A Cuthbert, G Evans, D Hewitt, T James (N Trevett 73); C Sweeney, L Jones (L Williams 55); T Filise, R Williams (M Breeze 61), B Bourrust (T Davies 59), B Davies, J Down (L Reed 68), J Navidi, S Warburton, A Pretorius (capt). Not used: L Hamilton, T Williams.
Edinburgh: G Tonks; L Jones, N De Luca, J Houston, T Visser; G Laidlaw (capt), R Rees (C Leck 73); A Jacobsen (J Yapp 55), R Ford (A Titterrell 70), G Cross (W Nel 55), G Gilchrist (P Parker 73), S Cox, D Denton, R Grant, S McInally. Not used: N Talei, G Hunter, S Visser.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: West