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Page last updated at 17:27 GMT, Saturday, 12 December 2009

Blues 15-9 Toulouse

Blues (6) 15
Pens: Blair 4, Halfpenny
Toulouse (0) 9
Pens: Fritz, Michalak Drop: Skrela

Blues full-back Ben Blair
Ben Blair produced an accurate kicking display at the Cardiff City Stadium

Cardiff Blues retained hopes of automatic qualification from Pool Five of the Heineken Cup with a tense victory over European giants Toulouse.

The match was a dire spectacle for the neutral, with mistakes and poor kicking limiting try-scoring opportunities.

Ben Blair kicked four penalties to put the Blues 12-6 ahead before a David Skrela drop-goal reduced the deficit.

Toulouse centre Florian Fritz missed a match-levelling penalty before Leigh Halfpenny's kick sealed the win.

With the French side claiming a losing bonus point, the Blues are just one point behind the leaders going into next week's return match in Toulouse.

But Dai Young's men, who beat the three-time Heineken Cup champions 9-6 in last year's quarter-final, will harbour serious hopes of victory after Toulouse's poor performance in Cardiff.

Toulouse started the game with positive intent but when they tried to use the match-turning skills of full-back Maxime Medard and wing Vincent Clerc, poor passing and handling brought attacks to a shuddering halt.

The home side also struggled in attack - although they did have a fine passage of play in the first half with a move involving a succession of offloads - but their defence was strong and their forwards more disciplined.

Toulouse coach Guy Noves tried to shake things up early in the second half by moving Frederic Michalak to scrum-half and sending on a host of substitutes, and they did manage to claw their way back into the contest.

Skrela's drop-goal set up a nervy finale but Fritz badly struck his late penalty, the ball ending up nearer the corner flag than the posts, leaving Halfpenny to batter over his long-range kick.

Blues coach Dai Young:
"This is a massive win for us. Hopefully, it will give us the belief and confidence to kick on from here.

"The good thing is there are still areas of our game that we can improve - we lost six or seven line-outs, for instance - and I believe we can improve that for next week.

"Toulouse will probably be a different team at home, but I can't see any reason why we cannot get another 10 or 15% out of ourselves. We are going out there to win - that will be our one and only focus."

Toulouse coach Guy Noves:
"Cardiff were more efficient than us with their kicking game, and although our second half was better, we couldn't finish anything off.

"We were not patient enough. We should have been able to build four or five more phases when we attacked.

"With a little bit more patience next week, I think we can hurt them. We know how tough it is to win away from home in the Heineken Cup, and don't forget Cardiff were semi-finalists in this competition last year."

Blues: Blair; Halfpenny, Shanklin, Roberts, T James; Norton-Knight, Cooper; Jenkins, G Williams, Filise, Jones, Tito, A Powell, M Williams, Rush.
Replacements: Hewitt for Shanklin (25), Sweeney for Norton-Knight (54), T Thomas for G Williams (72), Morgan for Jones (54), Warburton for A Powell (69).
Not Used: Rees, Hobbs, G Powell.

Toulouse: Medard; Clerc, Fritz, Jauzion, Heymans; Michalak, Bezy; Montes, Servat, Johnston, Millo-Chluski, Albacete, Dustautoir, Picamoles, Sowerby.
Replacements: Poitrenaud for Medard (55), Donguy for Fritz (76), Skrela for Bezy (52), Poux for Montes (46), Lacombe for Servat (46), Human for Johnston (54), Maestri for Millo-Chluski (66), Lamboley for Picamoles (58).

Att: 10,511

Ref: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland).

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see also
Barbarians boost Blues - Roberts
07 Dec 09 |  Welsh
Laulala will be big star - Young
06 Dec 09 |  Welsh
Heineken Cup 2009/10
22 Dec 09 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup tables
09 Aug 06 |  Tables
European rugby archive
16 Aug 06 |  Rugby Union
Coming up next on Scrum V...
03 Nov 08 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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