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Page last updated at 20:12 GMT, Friday, 12 September 2008 21:12 UK

Cardiff Blues 16-15 Ulster

Blues (6) 16
Try: Halfpenny
Blair (3)

Ulster (8) 15
Tries: Botha, Boss
Cons: O'Connor
Pens: O'Connor

A Ben Blair penalty 10 minutes from the end rescued Cardiff Blues against gutsy Ulster at the Arms Park and gave the hosts their first win of the season.

Ulster prop BJ Botha went over after 11 minutes and they led 8-6 at the break.

Wing Leigh Halfpenny, 19, put the Blues into the lead after 56 minutes, but Isaac Boss crossed and Niall O'Connor converted to put Ulster back in front.

But O'Connor missed two penalties and a conversion while Blair missed only one shot and was on target to seal victory.

With three games - against the last three Magners League winners - in six days, Young was in an invidious position and opted to concentrate on the two home games.

Leigh Halfpenny heads for the line against Ulster
Leigh Halfpenny heads for the line against Ulster

After a draw last weekend with Leinster, victory against Ulster was essential.

The Blues played some expansive rugby in the opening minutes, with wing Halfpenny going close after a kick-and-chase.

But after a calamitous 30 seconds involving three loose passes and a charged-down kick, they seemed to opt for safety first.

However, the back-row moves close to the breakdown which gained ground against Leinster were being swallowed by the Ulstermen, who used good ball off the tail of a line-out to put South African Botha over.

For the rest of the first half the boot dominated, Blair kicking two penalties each side of a reply Niall O'Connor.

Reaction: Cardiff Blues 16-15 Ulster

Ulster's rampaging pack, which featured captain Rory Best leading by example, kept things tight.

When home fly-half Nicky Robinson was off target with a second drop-goal attempt just before the interval, he was greeted with a volley of boos by the disgruntled Blues fans.

They were cheered by a break from Jamie Robinson to open the second period, but the centre's pass out of a tackle went behind the unmarked Halfpenny and into touch.

Blair hit a post with a penalty as the Blues kept up the pressure and they were finally rewarded when Halfpenny took an inside pass from substitute fly-half Ceri Sweeney to go over under the posts. Blair converted.


Ireland wing Andrew Trimble showed fine hands to threaten on both sides of the field as Ulster fought back, but after a spell of sustained pressure scrum-half Boss shrugged off Jamie Robinson's feeble tackle for a try improved by Connor.

But Blair quickly slotted a penalty to regain the lead for the Blues and the home side held on.

Ulster coach Matt Williams:
"We were immature throughout the second half. We should have been cleverer and we should have won the game.

"After half-time we had no structure to our play and we gave away too many penalties. We threw away a win which was there for the taking.

"The effort was there alright but we were running round like headless chickens in the second half."

Blues: Blair, Halfpenny, J Robinson, G Thomas, Czekaj, N. Robinson, Allinson, Jenkins, T Thomas, G Powell, Davies, Tito, Molitika, M Williams, Lewis.
Replacements: J. Roberts for Czekaj (62),Sweeney for N Robinson (45), Spice for Allinson (58), G Williams for T Thomas (59), Morgan for Davies (65), A Powell for M Williams (40).

Ulster: Schifcofske, Trimble, Cave, Wallace, Nagusa, O'Connor, Boss, Court, Best, Botha, Caldwell, O'Donoghue, McCullough, Pollock, Diack.
Replacements: Cunningham for Schifcofske (20), Dewey for Wallace (12), Fitzpatrick for Court (48), Anderson for Pollock (42).

Att: 7,431

Referee: Alan Lewis (Ireland).

see also
Ospreys 32-10 Cardiff Blues
09 Sep 08 |  Ospreys
Ulster 9-16 Scarlets
05 Sep 08 |  Ulster
BBC Sport Wales coverage
23 Mar 08 |  Wales
Magners Celtic League
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Anglo-Welsh Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union

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