I've now finished catching up on recordings of the two semi-finals in this year's Anglo-Welsh Cup. Magnificent! Gloucester beat Ospreys by 17-0, with an 80 metre interception try by Balshaw at the death to seal an intense match. This showed Dean Ryan's coaching and direction of the team at its magnificent best - committing more men to the tackle area and literally blasting Ospreys off the ball. Ospreys, despite the brilliance of their attacking resources, never managed to compete against the sheer commitment shown by Tindall's team.
Northampton stayed in touch but never led against Cardiff Blues in the other match. In the first half, their defence was awesome but they rarely left their own end of the pitch. Cardiff pressure brought a deserved try by scrum half Spice, following an early penalty, to lead 8-0 at half time. Northampton came back strongly after half time with an early try by Ansbro, created by Myler (8-5). Northampton had the lion's share of territory and possession for the remainder of the match, but were unable to break through. A penalty for Blair, with 10 minutes remaining, gave Cardiff a wider margin at 11-5, but the match remained on the knife edge until the last play. It was a strange game, with both kickers misfiring and odd tactical choices made, but the intensity of the physical confrontation was wonderful to watch.
Sadly the future of the competition is undecided - the RFU and Premier Rugby seem unable to agree, and this excellent link with the top Welsh sides could be lost. That would be a shame. At least we still have this year's final to look forward to, on Saturday 18th April at Twickenham.
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