Cardiff Blues 54 Pau 22| European Rugby Challenge Cup | Saturday 7th December 2019
Cardiff Blues produced a quite stunning display to run eight tries past Pau and record a second bonus point win in a week at the Arms Park on Saturday night.
John Mulvihill had been able to welcome back a number of players from international duty and injury for the game, and four of them teamed up after 12 minutes to open the scoring in some style.
It all came from a Pau scrum in midfield which was run down the blindside straight into debutant Josh Adams, who promptly dragged his opposite number into touch. Always alert to attacking opportunity, Tomos Williams took the lineout quickly and found Jarrod Evans who stepped past three players and ran clear.
Finding Tomos back on his inside shoulder, the scrum-half produced a sublime flicked pass out the back door for Olly Robinson on the angle and that man Adams was on hand to run in his first Cardiff Blues try, with Evans adding the extras.
After that Pau tried to get into the game but had to rely on errors from the home side after a long attacking set on our line was brilliantly turned over by Will Boyde, captaining the team for the first time.
A high tackle by Josh Turnbull allowed Tom Taylor to kick a penalty before a wild offload by Owen Lane saw the ball go loose and the French side were quick to recover. Counter attacking down field the initial break was stopped well by James Ratti but hooker Lucas Rey was on hand to score on the next phase, Taylor converting easily.
Trailing 7-10 Cardiff Blues needed to get back into the game, and they did so in devastating fashion with three tries in seven minutes just before half-time.
Firstly, a penalty sent us to the corner and after earning another penalty advantage some telepathic work from the half-back saw Tomos kick perfectly over the top for Jarrod to collect, score and subsequently convert.
Next it was a huge moment for Ben Thomas on his first start as he took the ball at first receiver and brought Will Boyde off his shoulder before wrapping around and taking an offload back from his captain to sprint clear and score his first Cardiff Blues try with Jarrod converting again.
Finally it was a first phase strike play as Thomas and Jarrod linked up to free Owen Lane coming off his blindside wing before offloading for Adams and the Rugby World Cup top scorer was unselfish enough to flick the ball back inside for Matthew Morgan to score, Jarrod keeping up his 100% conversion record for a 28-10 lead at the break.
The start of the second half saw Cardiff Blues continuing to attack, with Robinson and Lane looking dangerous, but in the end it was magic from the half-backs that unlocked Pau once again.
Tomos produced a quite unbelievable piece of play to whip the ball around his body before offloading for Rey Lee-Lo to break, then recycled possession quickly with Jarrod putting a perfect kick through for Adams to score his second try of the game.
Jarrod was on target again from the tee but Pau hit back quickly as the Cardiff Blues defence allowed an easy break down the middle before Taylor chipped the ball through for Pierre Nueno to collect and score in a smart fashion.
The game was made safe though when two more quick tries from the home side pushed us towards the 50-point mark.
Once again the half-back combination were in sync with Tomos stabbing a kick through for Jarrod to score, although he had to do more work this time to catch up with the ball and dive full length to touch down with the dead ball line approaching.
Then a brilliantly weighted kick from Ben Thomas saw him turn from try scorer to try creator with Owen Lane on the other end to get in on the scoring action. Jarrod converting his second try before Jason Tovey took over kicking duties for the Lane score.
Replacement Pau scrum-half Samuel Marques was allowed the easiest of scores through the middle as the French side threatened to get a try bonus point in defeat, but Cardiff Blues had the last word when Lloyd Williams and Lane produced some magic to break clear and the scrum-half kicked ahead for Adams to score his hat-trick.
Eight tries and 54 points was the perfect way to follow up the Guinness Pro14 the week before, and puts us in a great position in the Challenge Cup pool table now, keeping up the pressure on Leicester at the top.
The key games keep coming though as we head to the foot of the Pyrenees next week for a crucial return game with Pau, knowing that a win will put us right in the mix for a best runner-up spot and qualification for the knockout stages.Back to Terrace Talk