RaboDirect Pro 12: Cardiff Blues 28-9 Dragons

Cardiff Blues overpowered local rivals Newport Gwent Dragons in an uncompromising Pro12 clash at Cardiff City Stadium.

Gavin Henson made his Blues debut at full-back and provided some classy touches with ball in hand.

But his appearance was overshadowed by two Alex Cuthbert tries and another from lock Bradley Davies.

Fly-half Jason Tovey kicked the Dragons points as the Blues climbed to fourth in the league.

However, they lost centre Jamie Roberts to injury while Robert Norster bowed out as chief executive.

The Dragons had an outstanding performer in number eight Toby Faletau, who added a long clearance kick to his impressive array of talents.

But Henson's first touch after recovering from a wrist injury that ended his Wales World Cup squad hopes was a disappointment.

The 2005 British and Irish Lions tourist to New Zealand confidently took a high ball as his latest comeback began, but, after finding space and making ground, his pass went forward and to ground.

The former Ospreys, Saracens and Toulon player recovered to show a more polished side to his play and some of his tactical kicking was a reminder of his talents.

But he had little influence on the outcome from the back and had to watch as new team-mate Cuthbert - a 6ft 6in, 16st 5lb member of Wales' new breed out wide - make his mark.

Leigh Halfpenny was also on impressive form, winning the man-of-the-match award, but his first penalty attempt went wide and Tovey hit an upright with his first shot.

The Blues scored from their first attack as Ceri Sweeney and Casey Laulala combined for the latter to send a delightful pass for Cuthbert to go over, Halfpenny converting.

Henson answered some of the question marks over his ability to take the blows after almost two-and-a-half years of limited action by absorbing Dragons scrum-half Wayne Evans' late tackle.

Halfpenny and Tovey exchanged penalties as the game remained finely balanced.

But lock Davies powered over to bring down the curtain on the opening period and Halfpenny converted to give the Blues a 17-3 lead.

Centre Roberts went down within two minutes of coming on as a replacement for Dafydd Hewitt, recovering slowly on that occasion.

Sweeney avoided a yellow card after shoulder-charging Tovey, which the Dragons' fly-half punished with a successful penalty shot.

Halfpennny and Tovey then exchanged penalties amid a lull in the contest and Roberts departed after 64 minutes having been in pain while being treated for a second time.

Blues wing Halfpenny kicked his third penalty with 13 minutes remaining.

And Cuthbert finished off a fine night's work as he sped away for the final try, Halfpenny's conversion attempt rebounding off an upright.


Cardiff Blues: Henson; Halfpenny, Laulala, Hewitt, Cuthbert; Sweeney, L Williams; G Jenkins, Tyrell, Filise, B Davies, Tito (capt), Paterson, Warburton, Rush.

Replacements: Roberts for Hewitt (40), Rees for L Williams (50), Breeze for Tyrell (59), Andrews for Filise (40), Molitika for Tito (54), Navidi for Warburton (70), Parks for Roberts (52).

Not Used: Yapp.

Newport-Gwent Dragons: M Thomas; Chavhanga, Hughes, Robling, Brew; Tovey, W Evans; N Williams, Burns, Buck, A Jones, Sidoli, Lydiate, G Thomas (capt), Faletau.

Replacements: Tuilagi for Robling (71), Bedford for W Evans (71), Price for N Williams (71), S Jones for Burns (71), Way for Buck (55), Groves for Lydiate (71), Waters for G Thomas (71).

Not Used: Pewtner.

Att: 10,660

Referee: Leighton Hodges (Welsh Rugby Union)

Assistant Referees: Tim Hayes, Martyn Lewis

Citing Commissioner: Gwyn Bowden

TMO: Nigel Whitehouse

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