Cardiff Blues 21-14 Ulster Rugby
Cardiff Blues staged a second half rally to defeat Ulster in their RaboDirect Pro12 tie in Wales on Friday evening.
Ulster made the better start to the game and led 3-0 after twelve minutes, after Ruan Pienaar landed a penalty. The Irish side were doing well in this early period and extended their advantage when Robbie Diack crossed over for a try shortly after.
The score was not converted but the visitors led 8-0 and were looking very strong. Dan Parks hit back with a quick penalty for the home team on twenty two minutes to reduce the deficit to five points.
However, Pienaar added a second three pointer to give the Irish side back their advantage. Parks had the final say of the half, landing a penalty right on the whistle, to leave the score 11-6 to the visitors at the break.
The sides were level a minute after the restart when Dan Parks touched down in the corner after a great attack by Cardiff. At 11-11 the scene was set for a thrilling second period. It took only the sixty second minute before the next score came.
Tom James scored a try and it was converted by Parks to leave it 18-11 to Cardiff. Things then went from bad to worse for Ulster as Humphries was sin binned and Parks converted yet another penalty to extend the lead. Pienaar replied for Ulster but it was too little too late.
The Irish side will have been disappointed not to do better here but it was not their night and they failed to get to grips with the home side in the second half.
Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin believes the 21-14 loss to Cardiff was an opportunity miss and believes his side weren’t clinical enough:
“The difference between the two sides tonight is that they took their chances and we didn’t take ours. We squandered too many opportunities and we didn’t respect the rugby ball enough. We got turned over too easily and gave away silly penalties. The problem was that we just couldn’t control the ball.
“I think if you look at the game, whenever we got into the opposition 22 weren’t ruthless enough. We had chance after chance but we weren’t able to convert the pressure that we had into points. And as a result that opened the door for Cardiff. The penalty they got just before half time brought them right back into it and the try they got immediately after half time put us under pressure.”
A Ruan Pienaar penalty earned Ulster a losing bonus point and McLaughlin is happy to take something from the game:
“We’re leaving here with a bonus point so that’s some consolation. It shows you how far we’ve come that we can come to a place like this and be very, very disappointed not to come home with more. But we have to learn from this – we will get on the training paddock this week and make sure we are back on form for Ospreys next weekend.”
McLaughlin is still confident his team can achieve their goal of reaching the PRO12 play off is May:
“It is going to be very tight but that bonus point tonight could prove crucial. We’re still in with a shout but we’ll have to wait and see how other results go this weekend.”