PA Sport - Sun, 11 Apr 14:55:00 2010
Cardiff Blues produced a terrific display of attacking rugby to stroll into the semi-finals of the European Challenge Cup with a seven-try 55-20 victory over Newcastle at Kingston Park.
Dai Young's side reached the last four of a European competition for the second season in a row as they blew the Falcons away after the break, cutting their opponents apart almost at will.
The visitors led 17-13 at half-time after making a great start with tries from centre Casey Laulala and flanker Martyn Williams, with Ben Blair adding seven points with the boot.
Winger Charlie Amesbury dotted down for the Falcons, with fly-half Jimmy Gopperth kicking a conversion and two penalties.
But it was one-way traffic after the break as prop Taufa'ao Filise went over twice with Blair, Jamie Roberts (pictured) and Ceri Sweeney also scoring for the Blues as Blair ended the game with a personal haul of 25 points.
Micky Young got a late consolation for Newcastle.
Enthusiasts of the scrum were denied the chance to see a mouth-watering clash between Carl Hayman and Gethin Jenkins as the former New Zealand prop was a late withdrawal with a back injury.
Sweeney almost went over for the first try from the Blues first concerted attack but he was brought down just short of the line after a jinking run.
But the first try arrived in the ninth minute as Richie Rees broke off a scrum five metres out and Laulala rolled through a tackle to score. Blair added the conversion.
Captain Gopperth quickly responded with a simple penalty for the Falcons but the hosts failed to gather the restart and they paid a heavy price as Williams stretched out from the back of a ruck to score. Blair kicked his second conversion.
Amesbury crossed after 16 minutes. Williams and Deiniol Jones looked to have the winger wrapped up, but they fell off him to allow the former Harlequin to race over for a try converted by Gopperth.
And an illegal Laulala block then allowed the Kiwi fly-half to trim the lead to a point with his second penalty.
The visitors continued to look the more threatening side and Blair made it 17-13 with a penalty after another sustained attack, before Gopperth missed a three-pointer of his own right on half-time.
Newcastle number eight Josh Afu knocked on just outside his 22 shortly after the break and it proved costly as Cardiff used the field position to extend their lead with more powerful carrying by Xavier Rush and Bradley Davies setting up prop Filise to drive over from close range. Blair again added the extras.
Further pressure rained down on the Falcons line and desperate defence saw the hosts concede another penalty that Blair easily converted for a 27-13 lead.
There was only one side in the contest at this point and a Filise burst allowed Williams to float a long pass out for Blair to cross for a 53rd-minute try that he converted.
Cardiff were rampant and some wonderful inter-passing among the pack eventually freed Roberts for a simple canter over for another converted try.
Filise then grabbed his second as replacement Paul Tito put him over, before Young grabbed a try back for Newcastle with a fine sniping break.
But the Blues had the last word as wing Leigh Halfpenny jinked his way to within sight of the line before offloading for Sweeney to waltz over, with Blair completing his perfect display with the boot by knocking over the conversion.