Blues skipper Paul Tito and Gareth Thomas (centre) lead the celebrations at Twickenham.
Cardiff Blues demolished Gloucester in the EDF Energy Cup final at Twickenham to win their first piece of silverware as a region.
CARDIFF BLUES 50 GLOUCESTER 12
The Cardiff Blues demolished Gloucester in the EDF Energy Cup final at Twickenham to win their first piece of silverware as a region.
The Blues raced into a 22-5 half-time lead with two tries from Wales winger Leigh Halfpenny and a third from Tom James as Gloucester crumbled under Cardiff's power and panache.
Cardiff wrapped up an emphatic victory with two second-half tries from Ben Blair and a breakaway score from Ceri Sweeney before Tom Shanklin's converted effort brought up the half-century.
Victory at Twickenham completed a memorable week for the Blues,who last weekend beat French giants Toulouse to reach the Heineken Cup semi-finals for the first time in their history in any guise.
Among the most satisfied onlookers at Twickenham will have been Lions head coach Ian McGeechan and his assistant Shaun Edwards. The Lions management will meet on Monday to finalise their tour squad for South Africa and Cardiff were carried to victory by a number of immense performances from key contenders.
Halfpenny proved his qualities as an electric finisher and Shanklin produced another top-class performance but it was lung-bursting performance from man of the match Martyn Williams who epitomised the difference between the two sides.
The one black mark on the afternoon was an injury - reported to be a fractured arm - to scrum-half to Jason Spice after just two minutes which threatens to rule him out of the Heineken Cup semi-final against Leicester.
Gloucester managed a first-half try from Mark Foster and a late penalty try but they were a distant second in every area of the game as they slipped to a fourth consecutive Twickenham defeat.
The Cherry and Whites' half-hearted performance will have done little to convince critics that they do not deserve the "chokers" tag which is so often applied to them. Gloucester have now lost their last four Twickenham visits, a run which includes two Premiership Grand Finals and a Wild Card play-off.
Cardiff head coach Dai Young named an unchanged squad from the Toulouse triumph and far from looking jaded by their European exploits, the Blues started at a rip-roaring pace.
The loss of Spice did little to disrupt Cardiff's momentum as they proceeded to puncture the Gloucester defence with a blend of powerful running and slick handling.
The Cherry and Whites survived an earlyattack as Anthony Allen bundled Shanklin into touch just short of the line but they had no answer to Nicky Robinson's carving break through the middle. The Gloucester-bound fly-half slipped the ball to Williams and Halfpenny then exchanged two neat passes with Spice's replacement Richard Rees to dart over for the opening try.
Blair slotted the simple conversion and then extended Cardiff's lead with a penalty before the Blues punctured Gloucester's defence again.
The ubiquitous Williams raced onto an offload from Shanklin and then found Halfpenny with a lofted pass and the Blues winger accelerated away from Will James and Ryan Lamb to score his second try of the afternoon.
Gloucester mounted a swift response and spread the ball wide via captain Gareth Delve to Mark Foster, who wriggled through Halfpenny's attempted tackle to stretch over in the corner.
But Lamb missed the conversion and it proved only temporary respite for Gloucester as the Blues struck again just before half-time to open a 22-5 lead.
Robinson released Tom James on the angled run and the winger fended off Lamb's attempted tackle long enough to twist and touch down in the corner for a try confirmed by the television official.
The second half began with now familiar and frustrating bouts of kick-tennis that have dominated this season under the ELVs before Cardiff stepped up the pace again.
The Blues wasted a golden opportunity to score when Robinson decided to slide a grubber kick in behind the Gloucester defence instead of feding Blair on his shoulder. But they cut loose in the closing minutes, with Gethin Jenkins' bulldozing run scattering the Gloucester defence and his neat pass released Blair to score under the posts.
Replacement Sweeney regathered his own kick after the ball had taken a wicked bounce to raced clear before Williams provided another scoring pass to give Blair his second try.
And Shanklin, another of Cardiff's potential Lions, finished the afternoon off in style with a well-deserved try after Paul Tito's pass as the Blues knocked Gloucester for 50.
The British & Irish Cup kicks off this weekend with the four Regional Premiership Select XVs flying the flag for Wales. Welsh
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Sun 15 Nov: Yorkshire Carnegie v Ospreys Premiership Select (1.30) & Scarlets v Bedford Blues (3.00)
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