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DE LUCA DOUBLE LANDS BLUES IN TROUBLE

Blues: 14 (14) Edinburgh: 36 (3)



A devastating five try Embra blitz in the second half left Cardiff reeling this afternoon.  Their last ever game in the Arms Park will be one that they will wish to forget.

More importantly, the rout saw the visitors overtake both the Ospreys and Leinster to secure the silver medal spot in this year's Magnersleague.  It is a tremendous achievement, secured by an outstanding home straight surge, which has seen the Gunners win six matches on the trot. 

During that time, a number of second stringers have emerged as key performers, notably Kyle Traynor and the now-injured Alan MacDonald.  One was impressed, too, by the way that Greig Laidlaw shrugged off an indifferent start to today's match and had a fine spell in the second period push.  Meanwhile, the old stagers have played their part, with Ali 'Hoggy' Hogg responding well to being dropped by the national selectors this Six Nations by contributing massively in every league match this season. 

There is a genuine mental toughness and professionalism about these guys that has not been apparent on a consistent basis in the past.  Said try star de Luca:

"Our winning streak helped us to come back into the game because we had been down before in other games and still managed to win. We have got that winning habit, so we didn't try to force anything. We took our time, stuck to the plan and we knew the tries would come."

That augurs extremely well for the future.

Cardiff got off to a great start, though.  After early Blues pressure, Edinburgh turned them over, only for Jamie Robinson to intercept an enemy pass and put his brother Nicky over for the opener, goaled by New Zealander Blair.
 
Although Paterson pulled a penalty back for Edinburgh on 15 minutes, it was the Blues who scored the next touchdown. Czekaj ran a good angle to take Nicky Robinson's pass and burst through an indifferent tackle, Blair again adding the extras just after the half hour.  The try left the half time score 14-3 Blues, deserved on the run of play, although Embra had had their moments on the counter.

Nicky Robinson went from hero to zero on 47 minutes, a cynical knock on from an offside position leading to a penalty try and a card for the stand-off, Paterson converting.  Game on.

And Embra took the lead for the first time two minutes later.  Geoff Cross, The Planet's Poshest Prop, set up the score off turnover ball with a now trademark powerful run.  Ben 'Cairnsy' Cairns was on hand to score in the right corner.

And the power play was still on when Nick de Luca crossed for try number three.  Again, turnover ball was the spark for a typically flamboyant Embra attack to send the Lockerbie legend over.

Robinson was back on the park for only five minutes before Edinburgh notched the bonus point score.  This time it was the mercurial midfield mini-maestro, Phil Godman, who touched down.  A fine Houston break made progress down the right, the supporting de Luca turning provider, putting his playmaker over.  At 29-14 up entering the quarter, Edinburgh were beginning to look safe.  It seemed like the Gunners could do no wrong.

Wholesale Cardiff replacements were not enough to turn the tide, and de Luca crossed for the score that settled the outcome on 68 minutes, the snake-hipped centre intercepting a loose Yapp pass to canter over. Paterson goaled to put the result beyond doubt. 

Although this season's away form has not been stellar, this was actually Edinburgh's fourth victory at this venue in the last five attempts.  Hopefully they will feel equally at home at the new Cardiff City stadium in future seasons.

The final league table makes pleasant reading from an Embra point of view.  They are the leading points scorers, with 416; only Munster can match their six four-try bonus points; while they trail only Munster and the Scarlets in the try scoring stakes.  They are three points clear in second position, albeit a hefty eight points behind Munster.  Had they beaten Munster at home and won just one more away game, they would have been champions.

Who knows what is going to happen behind the scenes at the club over the next month.  It now seems that Andy Robinson may have some competition for the national coach position.  Embra fans will wish him all the best in whatever he does next season; yet from a selfish point of view, we would much rather he stayed to finish the job that he has started.  After all, he inherited a side that had imploded during the rather bizarre Carruthers-SRU interlude and led them to a creditable fourth place last season; now he has taken them to second.  Who knows what he and his charges can achieve next year? 

SCORERS:

Cardiff: Blair 2C, Czekaj 1T, N Robinson 1T

Edinburgh: Paterson 4C 1P, Penalty Try, De Luca 2T, Godman 1T, Cairns 1T

TEAMS:

Cardiff Blues: Blair; Mustoe, J. Robinson, G. Thomas, Czekaj; N. Robinson, Allinson; Gill, T. Thomas, Yapp, D. Jones, Morgan, Warburton, Sowden-Taylor, Molitika.
Edinburgh: Paterson; Houston, Cairns, De Luca, Webster; Godman, Laidlaw; Traynor, Ford, G. Cross, C. Hamilton, J. Hamilton, Newlands, R. Grant, Hogg.

Referee: McDowell (IRFU)