Cardiff’s 12 tries not enough in Challenge Cup

Tryscorer Dan Fish on the attack for Cardiff Blues

Cardiff Blues smashed Calvisano 74-6 in their European Rugby Challenge Cup match at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park but it was ultimately not enough to progress.

Cardiff scored 12 tries against Calvisano and were on their way to the quarter finals until Montpellier scored two late tries for the bonus point against Harlequins.

The Montpellier bonus point means that they go through and Cardiff are eliminated.

Cardiff put in a valiant effort as they strived to qualify and wing Tom James scored a hat-trick to complete a double over the Italian side.

Five tries in the first-half and six in the second secured the Blues’ huge win, but it was not enough as they finished third in Pool 3. Cardiff got off to a flying start as they went hunting for the tries that could potentially grant them a pass into the quarter-finals.

It was the Blues’ form flyer Tom James who dotted down at the corner after the hosts upped the tempo in the build-up. Gareth Anscombe landed the first of three consecutive touchline conversions to give the Blues a dream start.

James then helped set his Wales squad colleague Cory Allen up for the second try after just 10 minutes. The wing broke clear and fed Gavin Evans, who in turn sent Allen on his way to the try-line. Anscombe was on target again to make it 14-0. Florian Vlaicu landed a penalty to give the Italians a glimmer of hope, but that was quickly extinguished by the Blues.

The home pack shunted their way to turnover ball at a scrum, and Allen floated a perfectly weighted pass to James for the wing’s second try. And the bonus-point was wrapped up soon after when Josh Navidi splintered off the back of a rolling maul to touch-down.

The first-half scoring was rounded off by Dan Fish, who chased and collected Tavis Knoyle’s chip ahead for a fifth score and a handsome 33-3 lead at the break.

Hooker Ethan Lewis pounced on a loose-ball at a lineout to claim his first European try, before James produced something special to claim a hat trick. The former Exeter flyer seared down the left flank, leaving defenders in his wake to score from 40 yards out. Alex Cuthbert got in on the act for the ninth try, before Aled Summerhill, Rhys Patchell and Macauley Cook finished off the rout.

Wales captain Sam Warburton played for 80 minutes in the match for the first time since he injured his ankle in November and his effort is timely with the Six Nations just two weeks away.

Final Score Cardiff Blues 74 (33) Calvisano 6 (3)

Scorers

Cardiff Blues
Tries – James (3), Allen (2), Navidi, Fish, Lewis, Cuthbert, Summerhill, Patchell, Cook
Pen –
Con – Anscombe (7)
Drop –

Calvisano
Tries –
Pen – Vlaico (2)
Con –
Drop –

Match Officials
Referee: Thomas Charabas (France),
Assistant ref: Arnaud Blondel (France),
Assistant ref: Luc Ramos (France),
Citing Commissioner: Andy Blyth (England)

Teams

Cardiff Blues: Dan Fish; Alex Cuthbert, Cory Allen, Gavin Evans, Tom James; Gareth Anscombe, Tavis Knoyle; Gethin Jenkins (c), Ethan Lewis, Dillon Lewis, Jarrad Hoeata, Lou Reed, Cam Dolan, Sam Warburton, Josh Navidi

Replacements: Matthew Rees, Tom Davies, Scott Andrews, Macauley Cook, Ellis Jenkins, Lloyd Williams, Rhys Patchell, Aled Summerhill

Rugby Calvisano: Ben De Jager; Giacomo De Santis, Alberto Chiesa, Tommy Castello (c), Marco Susio; Florin Vlaicu, Pablo Canavosio; Luca Scarsini, Lorenzo Giovanchelli, Rudy Biancotti, Michele Andreotti, Davide Zanetti, Matteo Archetti, Renato Giammarioli, Jim Tuivaiti

Replacements: Gabriele Morelli, Sami Panico, Marco Riccioni, Agustin Cavalieri, Emilio Vezzoli, Nicola Belardo, Riccardo Raffaele, Filippo Buscema

With thanks to EPCRugby

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