Memorial Ground, Sunday 20 January 3.00pm Heineken Cup
The Blues needed to win the match to qualify for the quarter finals of the Heineken Cup for the first time in their history.
There was a real intensity in the match form the start, with bulldozing runs matched by bone crunching tackles.
Bristol were awarded a penalty early on and Jason Strange kicked into the corner. From the line out the maul collapsed but the ball was spread wide, Luke Arscott came in on a fine angle to touch down under the posts. However the try was disallowed for a forward pass. Eventually the Blues cleared and won penalty for holding on.
The Blues were playing well with good forward pressure driving towards the Bristol line. A beautiful move from the scrum saw the ball work its way out to the wing. Jamie Roberts showed his strength, after Blair had cut through the defence. Good inter passing between Shanklin and Roberts saw the winger touch down for the try. However, again the ref disallowed it for a forward pass.
A good charge down saw the ball end up with Gareth Thomas and he worked his way through some slack tackled before being held up within yards of the try line. Eventually ball came out to wing and Martyn Williams squeezed in at the corner. However after consulting TMO no try was awarded as Williams' knee was in touch.
The Blues were eventually awarded a penalty and Blair took the first kick at the posts with the wind coming from the side. He hit the upright and Alfie just failed to hold on to the ball as it rebounded back. Thomas was soon in the thick of it as Shanklin held onto a neat chip and Thomas nearly cut through three defenders. From the Bristol scrum the ball emerged on the side and Molitika crashed over. Blair kicked the conversion.
It wasn't long before the Blues got the second. A ruck on the Bristol try line saw the ball passed out to the bind side and Gareth Thomas crashed over for the second try. Blair again added the conversion.
HALF TIME BRISTOL 0 CARDIFF BLUES 14
The Blues started the second half with the same intensity and were kicking for territory trying to pinning Bristol within their won twenty two.
Bristol however did show sings of attacking and tried to spread the ball. However a promising move broke down and Shanklin kicked ahead for territory.
A deliberate knock on saw the Blues awarded a penalty and Blair converted.
The Blues certainly didn't have it all their own way and a mad moment in defence with careless passing and missed clearances saw the Blues put pressure on themselves. However, Spice eventually cleared.
By this stage of he match the Blues knew that three tries would give them a home draw in the quarter finals. Bristol's defence was solid defence and they did a good of keeping Cardiff out
The Blues battled well for field position but couldn't get the breakthrough for the crucial try. However they had managed to secure a quarter final place which as just reward for all their efforts in the pool stage matches.
Cardiff Blues 15 Ben Blair, 14 Jamie Roberts 13 Tom Shanklin 12 Gareth Thomas 11 Jamie Robinson 10 Nick Macleod 9 Jason Spice 8 Xavier Rush (c) 7 Martyn Williams (80oiff) 6 Maama Molitika 5 Paul Tito (76off) 4 Deiniol Jones 3 Taufa'au Filise (71off) 2 Gareth Williams 1 Gethin Jenkins 16 Gary Powell (71on) 17 T Rhys Thomas (80on) 18 Scott Morgan (76on)19 Mark Lewis 20 Richie Rees 21 Rhys Jones 22 Tal Selley
Bristol Rugby: 15 L Arscott; 14 T Arscott, 13 R Higgitt,12 N Brew, A Elliott; J Strange, B O'Riordan; A Clarke, M Regan, J Hobson, R Winters, S Hohneck, M Salter (capt), A To'oala, A Blowers. Replacements: S Linklater, D Crompton, G Llewellyn, J El Abd, G Beveridge, D Hill, S Cox.
CARDIFF BLUES BRISTOL
TRIES Molitka x 1
G Thomas x 1
PENALTIES Blair x 1
CONVERSIONS Blair x 2