Halfpenny is full value as Blues kick on

London Irish 15 Cardiff Blues 22

Madejski Stadium

Cardiff Blues sustained their pursuit of a Heineken Cup quarter-final place with an archetypal cup display, short on romance but long on hard work and perspiration. They remain neck and neck with Edinburgh at the head of Pool Two and another English club has left the competition.

London Irish can still do the Blues a favour by winning at Edinburgh next weekend, but the Welsh region have home advantage against Racing Métro and should not trip up. If Leigh Halfpenny, who earned them a losing bonus point at Murrayfield with a long-range penalty which could yet decide the pool, sustains his kicking form, the Parisians could be in for a long afternoon.

Halfpenny was entrusted with all the kicking duties ahead of Dan Parks and he fully justified the trust of his coaches. Had the assistant referees not decided that his second effort passed over the top of an upright, he would have had a 100 per cent return.

Cardiff deserved their win for their second-half display, during which they scored the game's only try and turned the line-out to their advantage. But it was a passionless affair. The Irish have more important things on their mind, such as the return of enough injured players to sustain their pursuit of an Aviva Premiership play-off place, and yesterday's selection included yet another member of their productive academy, David Sisi, an 18-year-old flanker who found himself head-to-head with Sam Warburton, the Wales captain.

"When you put out youngsters, you take the error count that comes with the selection," said Toby Booth, the Exiles director of rugby. "It's all part of their evolution and players like Sisi and Alex Gray will have learned a massive amount. We're very disappointed with the outcome of this campaign but we'll be better for the experience too."

Warburton was the try-scorer, early in the second half, appearing in support of a rasping break by Casey Laulala which carried him past Gray and Delon Armitage, though there appeared to be a Blues knock-on early in the build-up. The missed tackle was the only blot on Armitage's afternoon; the full-back put in a disciplined effort and kicked a penalty which nearly matched Halfpenny's first for length.

But the home backs seldom threatened. Darren Allinson enjoyed a good first half from scrum-half against his former employers but thereafter slightly over-played his hand. In 160 minutes of cup rugby against the Blues this season, the Irish have kicked 11 penalties and scored not one try. Three kicks by Adrian Jarvis gave them a 9-6 half-time lead. It might have been different had the Blues' Michael Paterson possessed the pace to finish a break created by Paul Tito from a turnover, but neither side had a player capable of breaking the defensive mould which hung over the game.

The Blues do not expect Jamie Roberts back next Sunday, to bring his physicality to bear. The Wales centre is taking longer to recover than expected from a knee injury suffered before Christmas, which will be a concern to the national-team management as the Six Nations creeps nearer. In his place, Gavin Henson made his third Blues start, having played twice at full-back. Every now and then came echoes of his best form.

"Gavin wants to be involved closer to the ball and he looked more comfortable than he did against the Ospreys," said Gareth Baber, the Blues' backs coach. "You saw a couple of little bits of class, a pass, a half-break – he has that vision, that skill level that you want involved as much as possible."

London Irish D Armitage; T Ojo, J Spratt, S Hape (S Shingler, 72), A Thompstone (T Homer, 72); A Jarvis, D Allinson; C Dermody (capt; A Corbisiero, 58), D Paice (J Buckland, 36), F Rautenbach (P Ion, 50), N Kennedy (R Casey, 76), M Garvey, B Evans, A Gray, D Sisi.

Cardiff Blues L Halfpenny; A Cuthbert, C Laulala, G Henson, C Czekaj (R Mustoe, 58); D Parks, L Williams (R Rees, 58); G Jenkins, T Thomas (R Tyrell, 63), T Filise (S Andrews, 50), B Davies, P Tito (capt; M Molitika, 72), M Paterson, X Rush, S Warburton.

Referee N Paterson (Scotland).

London Irish

Pens: Jarvis 4, Armitage

Cardiff Blues

Try: Warburton

Con: Halfpenny

Pens: Halfpenny 5

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
News
David Ryall in Harry Potter
people
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Wayne Rooney warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane
football
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015