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Page last updated at 19:17 GMT, Saturday, 6 September 2008 20:17 UK

Cardiff Blues 16-16 Leinster

Ben Blair scores
Ben Blair touches down for the Blues against Leinster

Blues (10) 16
Try: Blair
Con: Blair
Pen: Blair
Drop-goals: N Robinson 2

Leinster (3) 16
Try: Nacewa
Con: Contepomi
Pens: Contepomi 3

Leinster fought back from a 10-3 half-time deficit, but were denied victory by a late Ben Blair penalty in this Arms Park Magners League opener.

Rival New Zealand full-backs Blair and Leinster debutant Isa Nacewa scored a try apiece. Blair's came in the first-half and Nacewa's in the second.

The defences were otherwise safe as the two full-strength sides cancelled each other out.

Felipe Contepomi equalled Blair and Nicky Robinson's tally with the boot.

Blair's late long-range penalty brought the hosts level after Nacewa's try, scored after Blues wing debutant Richard Mustoe failed to hold on to a high ball.

With the two teams having 100 per cent records in pre-season matches confidence was high in both camps but the Blues who showed greater adventure in the opening stages.

A Contepomi penalty put the defending league champions in front, but most of the first period was played in the visitors' territory as the Blues dominated.

Mickado - Footloose & Full Of Juice

The outstanding Maama Molitika made repeated inroads into the Irish defence, but the Blues were unable to finish the moves off.

Martyn Williams was presented with a loose pass by Leinster hooker Bernard Jackman and kicked to the posts, but the chasing Nicky Robinson was unable to get past the large barrier formed by lock Malcolm O'Kelly.

The Blues maintained their pressure, however, and a long pass right saw Blair race over out wide for a try he converted himself.

Fly-half Robinson, in his 100th appearance for the Blues, popped over a drop-goal to end the session.

Defences had the upper hand in the third quarter with Leinster collecting two Contepomi penalties each side of another drop-goal by Robinson.

The Blues were still enjoying most of the possession but it was Leinster who grabbed the breakaway try to silence the passionate Arms Park crowd.

Nacewa, having switched to fly-half, launched a high kick which Blues Mustoe failed to hold.

The loose ball cannoned back to the predatory Nacewa, who sped 40 metres to the line and Contepomi converted.

But Blair, who had missed a couple of straightforward kicks at goal, came good from just inside his own half to level the scores - and that is how it stayed.

Cardiff Blues: Blair; Mustoe, Shanklin, J. Roberts, Czekaj; N Robinson, Spice; Jenkins, G. Williams, Filise, Davies, Tito, Molitika, M Williams, A Powell.
Replacements: Allinson for Spice (61),T R Thomas for G Williams (57), G Powell for Filise (57), Morgan for Tito (70).

Leinster: Nacewa; Horgan, O'Driscoll, Contepomi, Kearney; Sexton, Whitaker; Healy, Jackman, McCormack, Toner, O'Kelly, Jowitt, Jennings, Heaslip.
Replacements: Fitzgerald for Horgan (61), Dempsey for Sexton (46), Fogarty for Jackman (72), Knoop for McCormack (51), O'Brien for Jowitt (72).

Att: 8,619

Ref: Andy MacPherson (Scottish RFU).

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see also
Magners Celtic League 2008/9
11 Aug 08 |  Rugby Union
Magners League table
09 Aug 06 |  Tables
Celtic rugby archive
07 Jul 03 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
23 Mar 08 |  Wales
BBC Sport NI coverage
03 Jul 08 |  Northern Ireland
BBC Scotland programme guide
26 Jul 09 |  Scotland

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