Young looks to fine-tune the Blues

Cardiff Blues 15 Toulouse 9

No tries and precious few scoring opportunities but Cardiff Blues proved they can match the most stubborn of opponents for sheer bloody-mindedness with this win over Toulouse.

This game was hardly the vintage fare served up by these clubs in the first Heineken Cup final in 1996, but times have changed and in terms of commitment, it was hard to fault the Blues.

They were good value for this win having led from the eighth minute through Ben Blair, who went on to kick all but three of his team's points. Leigh Halfpenny, the diminutive Wales wing with the howitzer boot, smashed home the fifth penalty that settled this tie two minutes from time.

However, coach Dai Young is well aware his team will need to show more than just willing when they head to the south of France for the return match this weekend. To their guts and determination, they must swiftly add accuracy and finesse.

Young said: "The good thing from my point of view is that we can get a lot better. Had we gone out and played our best rugby and got that result, then it would have made the trip to France even more daunting. But there are plenty of areas we can improve.

"We respect the challenge ahead of us and we're aware that Toulouse are a different team at home. They have that ability to change. But we can see another 10 to 15 per cent in our performance so there is no reason why we can't go there confident of getting the result we need."

Young will have options to choose from in the midfield with Tom Shanklin and Casey Laulala both expected to be fit for the trip. Shanklin was forced off during the first half with double vision and reddening after suffering a finger in his eye, though after a look at the video, the Blues rejected any possibility of foul play.

New signing Laulala is also expected to recover from a thigh strain for his Heineken Cup debut though it was Shanklin's replacement, Dafydd Hewitt, who won that late penalty dispatched by Halfpenny. Who wears the No 10 jersey, however, is of more pressing concern. Local media have already dubbed their ex-Wallaby Sam Norton-Knight(mare) after a debut to forget and it didn't get much better here with ironic cheers. Ceri Sweeney is wondering how long he must wait.

However Young said: "We're finally getting the chance to play what you could say was close to our strongest team. Now it's a matter of them all clicking again."

Toulouse will feel frustrated at leaving Cardiff with just the single bonus point having also missed the chance to level the scores shortly before Halfpenny struck when Florian Fritz's penalty and Cedric Heymans' drop-goal sliced horribly wide.

Cardiff: Pens Blair 4, Halfpenny. Toulouse: Pens Fritz, Michalak; Drop goal Skrela.

Cardiff Blues: B Blair; L Halfpenny, T Shanklin (D Hewitt, 26), J Roberts, T James; S Norton-Knight (C Sweeney, 64), G Cooper; G Jenkins, G Williams (R Thomas, 73), F Filise, D Jones (S Morgan, 64), P Tito (capt, S Morgan, 29-38), A Powell (S Warburton, 69), X Rush (S Warburton, 23-33), M Williams.

Toulouse: M Medard (C Poitrenaud, 56); V Clerc, F Fritz (Y Donguy, 75), Y Jauzion, C Heymans; F Michalak, N Bezy (D Skrela, 52); Y Montes (J-B Poux, 46), W Servat (V Lacombe, 46), C Johnson (D Human, 64), R Millo-Chluski (Y Maestri, 66), P Albacete, T Dusautoir (capt), S Sowerby, L Picamoles (G Lamboley, 58).

Referee: P Fitzgibbon (Ireland).


A poster by Durham Constabulary
Arts and Entertainment
books New York Times slammed over summer reading list
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine