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Page last updated at 19:12 GMT, Saturday, 24 October 2009 20:12 UK

Blues 20-12 Ospreys

Blues (10) 20
Tries: James, Cooper Cons: Blair (2) Pen: Blair DG: Norton-Knight
Ospreys (0) 12
Tries: Bowe, Collins Con: Biggar

By Gareth Roberts
BBC Sport at Cardiff City Stadium

Blues v Ospreys

Highlights: Blues 20-12 Ospreys

Tries at the start of either half saw the Blues streak to a comfortable league derby win over the Ospreys.

A Cardiff City Stadium record Blues crowd of 16,341 saw Sam Norton-Knight's lovely second-minute kick give Tom James the chance to finish superbly.

In the first minute of the second half Martyn Williams jinked off a driving maul to set up Wales scrum-half hopeful Gareth Cooper for the second try.

Tommy Bowe's try threatened a comeback, but Jerry Collins' score came too late.

In a strange build-up, the Welsh rivals had each tried to laud the ability of the other team while boosting their own men's qualities ahead of Sunday's Wales squad announcement.


The hosts' opening try was sensational as they profited from the hard yards Xavier Rush made from a ruck for Norton-Knight to superbly weight a kick ahead, James outpacing Rhodri Wells and Bowe.

Ben Blair added the angled conversion of the second-minute try.

The Ospreys seemed sure to score when wing Shane Williams broke free down the left, but instead of exploiting the space outside the Blues' only defender - namesake Gareth - the wing cut inside and the chance was gone.

Moments later the two Williamses met again, this time the Blues hooker and man-of-the-match felling the Ospreys wing with a late, high tackle that brought only a penalty and not even a yellow card.

Shane Williams leaves Norton-Knight in the dirt after a dazzling run
Shane Williams leaves Norton-Knight in the dirt after a dazzling run

Dan Biggar was unable to give the visitors their first points from around 40 metres and the rest of the opening quarter was most notable for mistakes that made for scrappy viewing, with the Blues marginally more inventive.

However, their scrum was under pressure as Duncan Jones made Taufa'ao Filise's early efforts a misery and denied the hosts a platform from which to build momentum.

Spilled possession also blighted both sides' efforts, Jamie Roberts and Filise among the Blues' culprits while the Ospreys' Andrew Bishop was also guilty on that front.

Wing Williams' defence also denied the Blues as he brought Blair down after a poor Biggar clearance allowed James to launch a counter-attack.

Ambitious finger-tip passing opened up space for Barry Davies, but Williams' pass off the floor ended up drifting harmlessly into touch, leaving Bowe grasping at thin air and the Blues' line intact.

The Ospreys varied their tactics with some cross-field Biggar up-and-unders from their own 22, a potentially risky policy, but which brought the reward of a penalty and some much-needed territorial gain from Biggar's touch-finder.

Wing Williams then helped free Sonny Parker as he occupied the Blues' defence before passing on, but Tom Shanklin proved equal to the threat as he raced back to intercept and half the danger.

A Steve Tandy high tackle on Roberts gave Blair the chance to put his side two scores ahead and he hit an upright with his next attempt, a long-range effort from inside his own half.

Martyn Williams returns from injury to boost Wales - but he cannot get away from the grasp of fellow Lion Alun Wyn Jones
The lungs and legs were struggling and I was feeling it towards the end but it was a good one to come back into

Martyn Williams

In the meantime the hosts survived exciting full-back Barry Davies' chip and chase into space and led 10-0 at the break.

Blues flanker Martyn Williams had eased his way back into action in the opening period, but at the start of the second he burst into life, perhaps exploiting the Ospreys' lack of a genuine open-side after Ryan Jones replaced Tandy at the break.

Breaking from a maul he rounded Wales and British and Irish Lions colleague Alun Wyn Jones and dumbfounded Bowe with the pass that sent Cooper racing over and Blair added the extra points.

The Ospreys needed inspiration if they were to get back into the game and sought it by replacing scrum-half Wells with wing Williams and bringing Nikki Walker on to the wing.

The move brought its reward as Williams twice broke through from the base of rucks to create the momentum that ended with Bowe going over at the corner.

Ospreys boss Scott Johnson then traded Jonathan Thomas for Ian Gough, Tiatia for Tom Smith and James Hook for Bishop while the Blues did likewise as Richie Rees took over from Cooper and Gary Powell from Filise.

It was disappointing to lose but the effort was there from the boys from start to finish

Ospreys wing Shane Williams

Ryan Jones, wing Williams, Bowe and Collins all did their utmost to make further inroads into the Blues lead, prompting and probing at every opportunity.

But with Martyn Williams' influence increasingly important and the defensive work of Shanklin and Roberts regularly thwarting the Ospreys the clock was against them and Norton-Knight's drop-goal put the contest beyond doubt.

Collins then went over to give his side a deserved try.

The Blues' victory leaves them with a record of 12 wins in their last 14 home games against Welsh regions and ended the Ospreys' undefeated run of four games and an undefeated streak on the road.

Blues flanker Martyn Williams:
"A win was the most important thing, we've struggled against the Ospreys for the last couple of years.

"The lungs and legs were struggling and I was feeling it towards the end but it was a good one to come back into.

"The shoulder's fine hopefully, I was more worried about just getting through it.

"Fingers crossed [for the autumn Tests], it's Leinster next week, I want to play in that and who knows from there?"

Ospreys wing Shane Williams:
"It was disappointing to lose but the effort was there from the boys from start to finish.

"They threw everything at us. Our discipline was quite poor and you can't give the Blues the ball because they are going to score points from it.

"We've got to pick ourselves up for the games to come.

"I'm looking forward [to the autumn Tests], but selection is out of my hands.

"I hope that I'm in the squad but no-one knows yet, I just hope I get the chance."

Blues: Blair, Halfpenny, Shanklin, Roberts, T. James, Norton-Knight, Cooper, Jenkins, G. Williams, Filise, Jones, Morgan, Warburton, M. Williams, Rush.
Replacements: Rees for Cooper (56), T. Thomas for G. Williams (45), G. Powell for Filise (56), Tito for Morgan (58). Not Used: Mustoe, Sweeney, White.

Ospreys: B. Davies, Bowe, Parker, Bishop, Williams, Biggar, Wells, D. Jones, Hibbard, Griffiths, Gough, A. Jones, Collins, Tandy, Smith.
Replacements: Hook for Bishop (56), Walker for Wells (50), James for Griffiths (64), Thomas for Gough (56), R. Jones for Tandy (41), Tiatia for Smith (56). Not Used: Shervington.

Att: 16,341

Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU).

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see also
Williams itching for autumn Tests
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Wales' sporting weekend in photos
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Magners Celtic League 2009/10
14 Jul 09 |  Rugby Union
RaboDirect Pro12 table
09 Aug 06 |  Tables
Regional rugby archive
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Coming up next on Scrum V...
03 Nov 08 |  Welsh
BBC Sport NI coverage
03 Jul 08 |  Northern Ireland
BBC Scotland programme guide
26 Jul 09 |  Scotland
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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