White punishes Dragons to flatter off-colour Blues

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The Independent Online

Cardiff Blues maintained their Magners League title challenge without ever hitting the heights in a scrappy Boxing Day game at Cardiff Arms Park, beating the Newport-Gwent Dragons 11-6.

Despite overwhelming territorial advantage, the expected four-try victory for a vital bonus point never materialised. The Dragons were reduced to 13 men for 10 minutes in the first half when both props Adam Black and Gethin Robinson were sent to the sin-bin, but the Blues failed to take advantage.

The opposite numbers Nick Macleod and Aled Thomas kicked penalty goals in a dire first half that ended in a 3-3 stalemate.

The Dragons showed more attacking intent after the restart, but Macleod's second penalty goal put the Blues ahead against the run of play. There was little time for coherent back play by either side, and the only try of the game came from an opposition mistake.

In the 64th minute a loose line-up throw by the Dragons was seized upon by Blues' flanker Ben White and, after a television replay, the try was awarded.

Both teams played out the final minutes a player light after a punch-up in the forwards led to red cards for the Blues' lock Paul Tito and the Dragons' No 8 Joe Bearman.

A consolation losing bonus point for the Dragons came courtesy of a long-range penalty goal from the boot of Ceri Sweeney.

Chris Paterson believes Scotland will learn from past mistakes when they head into this season's Six Nations Championship.

The 29-year-old versatile Gloucester back was in the Scotland side that finished with the Six Nations wooden spoon earlier this year.

But Scotland made partial amends with their run to the World Cup quarter-finals, and Paterson believes the 2007 Six Nations experience has readied the team for the coming months.

He told The Scotsman: "There were little high points, some good tries, the win over Wales and seeing our young players emerging and learning on the Test stage, but it was ultimately hugely disappointing that we didn't achieve our goals.

"The positive you have to take from it is that everybody learned from that experience and I believe supporters will see a stronger Scotland squad in 2008."

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