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Cardiff Blues battle past Pau to reach final

Cardiff Blues will play Gloucester in the final of the European Challenge Cup following an outstanding 16-10 triumph over Pau.

In a tense encounter, Gareth Anscombe touched down for the first try before Conrad Smith levelled proceedings at the end of the opening quarter.

Jarrod Evans and Tom Taylor traded three-pointers but the hosts’ fly-half gave them the lead at the break after another successful effort off the tee.

Cardiff were superb in defence in the second period and Evans’ penalty secured their passage into the showpiece event, where they will play the Cherry and Whites.

The Blues needed to negate the power of the visitors and they did so brilliantly throughout, moving the point of contact well and causing issues for the opposition rearguard in the first half.

Danny Wilson’s men created opportunities and scored the opening try when Seb Davies broke through and passed to Anscombe to finish.

Despite often being forced back in contact, Simon Mannix’s charges continued with the power game and did get success via a dominant scrum.

It gave them some much needed territory and they put pressure on the Cardiff playmakers. The hosts duly succumbed as their full-back went from hero to villain after seeing his attempted clearance charged down, allowing Smith to cross the whitewash.

Pau were looking far more assured and, although Evans regained the home side’s advantage, Taylor quickly levelled matters from the tee.

Wilson’s outfit still went into the interval in front, however, via their fly-half and then controlled the early stages of the second period, but they failed to extend their buffer.

Going into the final 15 minutes it was still finely poised and, as a result, mistakes became far more prevalent.

Neither outfit could gain much ascendency but that suited the Welsh region and they earned a late penalty, which Evans converted, to complete a fine victory.

The scorers:

For Cardiff Blues:
Try: Anscombe
Con: Evans
Pens: Evans 3

For Pau:
Try: Smith
Con: Taylor
Pen: Taylor

Cardiff Blus: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Owen Lane, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Ellis Jenkins, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Josh Turnbull, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Anton Peikrishvili, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Gethin Jenkins (c)
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Damian Welch, 20 Olly Robinson, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Garyn Smith, 23 Matthew Morgan

Pau: 15 Charly Malie, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Jale Vatubua, 11 Watisoni Votu, 10 Tom Taylor, 9 Thibault Daubagna, 8 Steffon Armitage, 7 Sean Dougall, 6 Ben Mowen, 5 Julien Pierre, 4 Daniel Ramsay, 3 Malik Hamadache, 2 Quentin Lespiaucq Brettes, 1 Thomas Domingo
Replacements: 16 Lucas Rey, 17 Ignacio Calles, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Dave Foley, 20 Paddy Butler, 21 Julien Tomas, 22 Antoine Hastoy, 23 Julien Fumat

Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland), Frank Murphy (Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)



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