Cardiff Blues 61 - 13 Zebre
Sun 06 September 14:30 Cardiff Arms Park Att: 3,658 Ref: Andy Brace Guinness Pro12

Cardiff Blues 61 Zebre Rugby 13

Sun 6 Sep 2015 17:10 Cardiff Blues 61 Zebre Rugby 13
A fast and furious first half saw Josh Navidi (2), Tom James – on his return - and Aled Summerhill all cross the whitewash to give Blues a commanding 20-6 half-time lead and the try bonus point.

Rhys Patchell grabbed an explosive nine-minute hat-trick to light up the start of the second half.

Summerhill grabbed his second of the game before Josh Turnbull grabbed a late treble of his own – also in nine minutes - to power Blues past the half century and record the region’s highest ever home score in the league.

Despite the emphatic score line, the game had started slowly for Blues and it was the Italian visitors who dominated territory in the opening quarter.

South African full back Kayle Van Zyl was full of invention as he jinked past men down the left flank before the Italians worked the ball back in field and fly half Maciol Azzolini kicked in behind but the ball ran dead and away from Gabriele Di Guilio.

A confidently struck penalty from Azzolini gave Zebre the early lead before alert scrum half Tavis Knoyle had to mop up danger after another kick in behind.

Patchell also looked to chip in behind to expose wide open space, with one kick bouncing up to Navidi who rattled into contact before releasing back row dynamo Vosawai on his shoulder.

Fly half Patchell saw his first penalty attempt of the game drift wide right of the posts and when another was awarded soon afterwards he this time opted to kick to the corner.

Blues opted for quick ball off the top and when it found skipper Navidi he barged past two men and into the corner, with the try finally awarded to loud cheers after consultation with the TMO.

Zebre hit straight back with a second penalty from Azzolini before a high tackle on Gavin Evans forced a penalty and saw Dan Fish this time kick to the corner with his trusty left foot.

The visitors again looked threatening from deep as a swift counter attack saw Di Giulio pick up spilled ball before Azzolini kicked to the corner when using numbers out wide looked the better option.

A mistimed lineout throw from Blues was then picked off by Zebre who dived over the line and claimed the try to put home hearts in mouth. But after consulting TMO the try was ruled out to huge home relief.

The home side needed a spark and it came from Patchell as he produced a quite sublime fired low pass down the line to take out two men and set Jarrad Hoeata free.

The New Zealander then kept his cool to in turn feed try machine James who showed all his finishing skills to power over in the far corner under pressure.

It got even better seconds later as a break from Navidi was followed up by a quick tap and go from Knoyle that had Zebre all at sea.

James and Fish combined and, even after the full back fell, the ball was fed to Patchell who sent Summerhill away to touch down.

It was to be the last piece of action for James who limped off to be replaced by Garyn Smith.

A yellow card for Andries Van Schalkwyk, as referee Andrew Brace lost patience with Zebre’s persistent infringements, made it even harder and the bonus point was secured when a lineout was driven over and Navidi claimed his second of the game.

The second half started where the first had ended with Zebre under immediate pressure when Summerhill forced his opposite number into a knock on and won Blues a five-metre scrum.

The forwards duly worked the ball up and when it was shipped inside Patchell showed his strength to blast over the line and add the conversion as the lead was extended to 27-6.

A brilliant tap and go from Knoyle saw his scamper 30-metres before feeding Fish on his shoulder. The full back tried to swat off the last man and was just short of the line as he looked to ground the ball.

Fish was in the thick of the action as he again led a breakaway and, after scuffed pass, the ball was hacked ahead to Patchell who picked up and touched down for his nine-minute hat-trick.

It was to be the final piece of action for the young playmaker who was taken off to a huge ovation alongside the impressive Knoyle.

Battling Zebre hit back with a score from Beyers, but normal service was soon resumed with an eighth score of the afternoon and second for Summerhill after Tom Isaacs set it up by tearing into clean air.

Summerhill then thought he was in for his own personal treble when he was inches from picking up Garyn Smith’s grubber kick ahead.

Blues were working just as hard in defence with Fish producing a brilliant try saving tackle on Luke Burgess as he raced up close to the line only to be hauled back and then penalised for holding in.

A length of the field score sent Turnbull over for try number nine and the flanker then grabbed another as he collected Ellis Jenkin’s flat drilled pass.

And the dream finale for the forward came in the last seconds as he found himself out wide, with Zebre again down to 14 men, to dive over to a thunderous roar as Blues grabbed a 11th try – a new record in a game for the region.
12m Azzolini p 0-3
23m Navidi t 5-3
25m Azzolini p 5-6
34m James t 10-6
37m Summerhill t 15-6
40m Navidi t 20-6
43m Patchell t Patchell c 27-6
51m Patchell t 32-6
52m Patchell t 37-6
58m Beyers t Azzolini c 37-13
61m Summerhill t G Davies c 44-13
73m Turnbull t Fish c 51-13
76m Turnbull t 56-13
80m Turnbull t 61-13
Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Aled Summerhill, 13 Tom Isaacs, 12 Gavin Evans (T Davies 72), 11 Tom James (Smith 38), 10 Rhys Patchell (G Davies 56), 9 Tavis Knoyle (Lewis 56); 1 Sam Hobbs, 2 Ethan Lewis (R Williams 51), 3 Taufa’ao Filise (Mitchell 40), 4 Jarrad Hoeata (Cook 54), 5 James Down, 6 Josh Turnbull, 7 Josh Navidi, 8 Manoa Vosawai (Jenkins 60)

Replacements: 16 Rhys Williams, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Craig Mitchell, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 G Smith