Cardiff Blues stay alive despite Exeter Chiefs loss

Alex Cuthbert has extended with Cardiff Blues

Cardiff Blues kept their chances of reaching the Amlin Cup quarter-finals alive even though they lost 13-19 to Exeter Chiefs in the Heineken Cup at Cardiff Arms Park.

Exeter Chiefs won the battle but lost the war as they had already been eliminated in the earlier rounds.

Don Armand scored a try for Exeter as they secured the double in victories over Cardiff but Wales winger Alex Cuthbert’s try meant the host secured a losing bonus point.

It didn’t go to plan for the Blues, who would have ensured a continution of
European rugby had they won with three tries. They found themselves 13-0 behind
and it was the visitors who edged an error-strewn encounter.

It means the Blues’ fate is out of their own hands as they will have to wait
on several other results before finding out if their European campaign is over.
Outside half Gareth Davies missed a crucial penalty for the Blues six minutes
from time that would have levelled the score but his opposite number Gareth
Steenson was excellent throughout, kicking four penalties and a conversion for
the Chiefs.

Despite being out of contention for an Amlin Challenge quarter-final place
Exeter started with real venom and were soon in front. After going through several
phases close to the Blues line lock Don Armand crashed over from close range
after three minutes with Steenson adding the conversion.

Steenson was promoted to captain for the Chiefs after Dean Mumm’s late withdrawal
and he put the visitors in control with two further penalties. It took the Blues
almost 30 minutes to threaten the Chiefs and two quickly-taken penalties sparked
the home side into life.

A third penalty arrived shortly after and this time Leigh Halfpenny slotted
the kick over from long-range. The penalty lifted the Blues and three minutes
before the break they cut the deficit to three points thanks to an excellent
finish from wing Alex Cuthbert, with Halfpenny nailing the conversion.

Halftime took the momentum out of the Blues’ play and it was Exeter who once
again started the better of the two sides. They failed to make the most of their
possession and that allowed Halfpenny to draw things level with another long
penalty on 54 minutes.

But it wasn’t all square for long as Steenson nudged Exeter back in front with
a penalty five minutes later. The Blues managed to drag themselves back into
the game in the final 10 minutes and Chiefs scrum half Dave Lewis was shown
a yellow card on 73 minutes with the visitors under pressure.

Blues outside half Davies took the resulting penalty with Halfpenny having
taken a knock but he dragged his effort wide of the posts. Exeter raced down
the other end and when Steenson was given the chance to make things safe he
made no mistake with a penalty.

Final Score Cardiff Blues (10) 13 Exeter Chiefs (13) 19

Scorers

Cardiff Blues
Tries – Cuthbert
Pen -Halfpenny
Con – Halfpenny (2)
Drop –

Exeter Chiefs
Tries – Armand
Pen – Steenson (4)
Con – Steenson
Drop –

Match Officials
Referee:
John Lacey (Ireland),
Assistant ref: Leo Colgan (Ireland),
Assistant ref: Olly Hodges (Ireland),
TMO: Kevin Beggs (Ireland),
Citing Commissioner: Roberto Carra (Italy)

Cardiff Blues: Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, Gavin Evans, Dafydd Hewitt, Chris Czekaj; Gareth Davies, Lloyd Williams; Sam Hobbs (c), Kristian Dacey, Benoit Bourrust, Chris Dicomidis, Filo Paulo, Macauley Cook, Ellis Jenkins, Robin Copeland

Replacements: Marc Breeze, Tom Davies, Scott Andrews, James Down, Rory Watts-Jones, Lewis Jones,

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