Henson back for Blues victory

PA Sport
Gavin Henson
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Gavin Henson

Gavin Henson's long-awaited return to rugby saw Cardiff Blues move back into the RaboDirect Pro 12 play-off places with a 28-9 victory over Newport Gwent Dragons.

But the former Wales international, who has been heavily involved in reality TV since the peak of his playing career, had only a minor role in his new team's convincing victory in front of a season's best crowd of 10,660 at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Leigh Halfpenny, taking over the kicking duties, was the Blues' outstanding performer, while fellow wing Alex Cuthbert scored two tries and lock Bradley Davies also crashed over. Jason Tovey booted over three penalties for Newport.

The Henson factor helped attract a season's highest crowd of 10,660 to Cardiff City Stadium on a freezing night and, in his first appearance in this league for almost three years, he was inevitably the early focus of attention.

The Dragons soon tested Henson with a high kick which he caught confidently, only to end a cross-field run with a loose pass. Both sides missed penalties before Halfpenny put the ball into the corner and paved the way for the opening try.

The Blues won the line-out and moved right, where centre Casey Laulala drew three men before passing out of the back of his hand to Cuthbert, who reached out to touch down despite the efforts of Dragons full-back Martyn Thomas.

Halfpenny converted and the Wales full-back, back in his usual position on the wing, also added a penalty, but Dragons fly-half Tovey cancelled that out after Laulala shoulder-charged young centre Lewis Robling.

The Blues ended the half well on top and were rewarded when Davies crashed over for a score which Halfpenny improved. Lions star Jamie Roberts joined the fray for the second half, but it was his fellow centre Laulala who warmed the crowd with a brilliant, jinking break.

Home fly-half Ceri Sweeney looked lucky to avoid a yellow card when he took out opposite number Tovey as he chased a hack downfield and the Dragons number 10 had to settle for kicking the resultant penalty.

A flurry of infringements saw Tovey kick one penalty from two, while the accurate Halfpenny was successful twice to extend the Blue's lead. But it was his running ability which confirmed the ability, a magnificent 40-yard gallop allowing him to send Cuthbert flying in at the flag. Halfpenny's conversion rebounded off a post, but the celebrations were already under way.

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