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Page last updated at 18:55 GMT, Friday, 29 October 2010 19:55 UK

Aironi 3-20 Cardiff Blues

Aironi (3) 3
Pen: Mercier
Cardiff Blues (17) 20
Tries: Mustoe, L Williams Con: Sweeney (2) Pens: Sweeney (2)


Richard Mustoe
Richard Mustoe played for Ospreys and Dragons before joining the Blues

Cardiff Blues maintained their pursuit of the Magners League leaders with a comfortable win over rugged Aironi.

Richard Mustoe broke the deadlock for Cardiff as he dived over in the corner from Casey Laulala's sleight offload.

Lloyd Williams added a second at the end of the first-hand as the impressive young scrum-half finished off a spell of sustained possession for the Blues.

Man-of-the-match Ceri Sweeney kicked 10 points as he inspired a hard-fought win and Aironi's heaviest home defeat.

The Blues, protecting a proud 100% record against Italian opposition, were without six of their Wales internationals as stars like Gethin Jenkins and Bradley Davies are in Welsh camp preparing for the autumn Tests.

But the Blues, who were able to start Welsh squad players Martyn Williams and Scott Andrews, took an early lead as fly-half Sweeney kicked a third minute penalty from close-range.

The visitors dominated against the newly-formed Italian franchise and after a little shadow boxing, Dai Young's men broke through the Aironi barricades with a slick passing move.

New Zealand powerhouse Laulala, capitalising after Ludovic Mercier's clearance kick was charged down, bulldozed through the first line of Aironi defence.

Laulala then off-loaded to marauding lock Michael Paterson who set-up Mustoe for a straight-forward score in the corner.

The wing, playing because of Leigh Halfpenny's injury and Chris Czekaj's Wales call, dived over for his first try since January before the reliable boot of Sweeney added the extras from a tight angle just inches from the left-hand touchline.

But Aironi, still without a Magners League win, were rewarded for their brief spell of possession as Ludovic Mercier punished some Blues indiscipline with a simple penalty.

The Blues, though, quickly responded to any potential Italian comeback as within five minutes Lloyd Williams, son of former Cardiff scrum-half Brynmor Williams, had twisted over for his first regional try.

Sweeney's dart to the line was thwarted but in the next phase the one-time Wales international teed-up rookie scrum-half Williams, in because of Richie Rees' Wales call, who shrugged off Julien Laharrgue's weak tackle to sprint over the line from close-range.

The Blues controlled the second-half and added to their interval lead when Sweeney, who recently passed 500 points in the Magners League, slotted over another penalty.

And Young's men should have further rammed home their dominance with 10 minutes remaining when a spell of sustained possession looked to compound Aironi's agony.

Scrum-half Williams was the orchestrator as Laulala and replacement prop John Yapp were stopped short but Dafydd Hewitt should have ultimately converted.

But as the centre looked set to crash over from 10 yards out following Rhys Thomas' pass, Hewitt dropped the ball and the scoring opportunity had gone.

Aironi, however, were unlucky not to celebrate a try of their own as, in the dying minutes, centre Gilberto Pavan brilliantly skipped past two covering challenges and headed for the line.

But it needed all the might of three Blues defenders - Lloyd Williams, debutant full-back Dan Fish and Yapp - to haul the rampaging replacement to the ground.

Young's men held out for a hard-earned victory against the Magners League new boys who had not been beaten by more than seven points at home since their formation in the summer.


Aironi: Julien Laharrague; Giulio Toniolatti, Rodd Penney, Gabriel Pizarro, Danwel Demas; Ludovic Mercier, Tito Tebaldi; Salvatore Perugini, Fabio Ongaro, Luca Redolfini; Marco Bortolami, Quintin Geldenhuys (capt); Jaco Erasmus, Andrea Benatti, Nick Williams.
Replacements: Pablo Canavosio for Tito Tebaldi (51), Alberto de Marchi for Luca Redolfini (55), Roberto Santamaria for Fabio Ongaro (60), Simone Favaro for Andrea Benatti (60), Gilberto Pavan for Gabriel Pizarro (62), Matias Aguero for Salvatore Perugini (63), Riccardo Bocchino for Ludovic Mercier (65), Joshua Furno for Marco Bortolami (72)

Blues: Dan Fish; Richard Mustoe, Casey Laulala, Dafydd Hewitt, Gavin Evans; Ceri Sweeney, Lloyd Williams; Tom Davies, Rhys Thomas, Scott Andrews, Michael Paterson, Paul Tito (capt), Ma'ama Molitika, Martyn Williams, Xavier Rush.
Replacements: John Yapp for Scott Andrews (41), Owen Williams for Gavin Evans (49), Sam Hobbs for Tom Davies (65), Andries Pretorius for Ma'ama Molitika (65).Not Used: Rhys Williams, James Down, Tom Slater, Gareth Davies.

Referee: Graham Knox (SRU)

Attendance: 2,800



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BBC Sport Wales coverage
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