Cardiff Blues 29 - 5 Zebre
Sat 16 May 15:00 Cardiff Arms Park Att: 6,487 Ref: Gary Conway Pro12

Cardiff Blues 29 Zebre 5

Sat 16 May 2015 17:30 Cardiff Blues 29 Zebre 5
In a breathless and free-flowing encounter, Cuthbert grabbed his first ten minutes before the break before Gethin Jenkins struck on stroke of half-time to open up a 12-0 lead.

Zebre adopted an attacking brand of running rugby throughout the final day encounter and were rewarded in the second half with a deserved try from Valerio Bernabo.

But further scores from Cuthbert, Rhys Patchell and a last minute effort from Garyn Smith ensured it was all smiles for Blues as the curtain fell of the season.

In sunny and warm conditions, it was the Italians who started the game the quicker and almost made the perfect start when an inventive cross field kick bounced kindly into the hands of Samuela Vunisa but his offload in the tackle was mopped up by Tavis Knoyle.

A counter attack from Blues saw Cuthbert look to break down the right before Giulio Toniolatti kicked into the corner to put more pressure on Blues in the opening quarter.

Blues were having to work on turnover ball, but it was from this that Richard Smith raced down the left wing and when Filo Paulo popped up on the other flank the first penalty of the game was nudged to the corner.

The home forwards took the ball on as the hosts looked to strike first, before the backs looked wide and a flat pass was picked off and visiting fly half Orquera hacked clear.

Italian ace Orquera was trying a range of kicks and offloads to try and open up Blues and yet another cross field kick bounced wickedly and evaded both Aled Summerhill and the onrushing David Odiete.

An ambitious drop goal attempt from halfway by Gonzalo Garcia drifted wide to ironic cheers before a Gavin Evans intercept finally had the Arms Park faithful on their feet with his offload releasing Cuthbert who was finally bundled into touch by Brendon Leonard.

Blues through they had broken through for the game’s opening try when Patchell streaked away. But the whistle of referee Gary Conway stopped celebrations as Blues were penalised for crossing in the build-up.

The deadlock was finally broken when a sweeping backs move saw Aled Summerhill feed Cuthbert on a scissors run and the Wales wing used all his finishing power and guile to make the corner for a 5-0 lead.

Next up a powerful home forward drive marched up field and when Marco Bortolami came in at the side the patience of referee Conway snapped as the visiting skipper was yellow carded.

Ruthless Blues immediately made the extra man count as the resulting drive saw Jenkins peel off and race over and touch down, with Patchell’s extras making it 12-0.

The lively Summerhill again showed his pace to blast through tackles and quick hands from Richard Smith freed Evans to charge up the middle just before half-time.

Blues kept the momentum going early in the second half with Tom Isaacs the architect as he busily broke past men. And when the ball was spun wide it was Cuthbert who again bounced the final man off in the tackle and dotted down for his second of the game.

Home hero Sam Warburton broke down the middle and swatted off tackle a huge ovation while the introduction of Gareth Anscombe saw the Italians chasing shadows.

More neat handling and a delicious show and go saw Anscombe break into clear air, with his sudden injection of pace too much for a tiring Zebre defence.

The back stumbled to deny him a try as he looked to go on the outside, but the support runners were there and they quickly fed the ball down the line to Patchell to glide over.

One of the biggest cheers of the day was reserved for Adam Jones as he left the field as a Blues player for one last time.

But there was no let-up in the pace as his replacement Taufa’ao Filise served up a monster hit first up to send Zebre back on their heels.

Anscombe was now showing some lovely touches, as his delightful dummy sent him clear again and into the Zebre 22. But it was the Italians who struck next as some imaginative and smart offloading resulted in a well-worked team try from Bernabo.

Blues, though, were not to be denied the final word and in the closing seconds it was centre Garyn Smith who raced down the left wing to score his first senior try.

And there was some final with the final play as Filo Paulo lined up the conversion from out wide but saw his effort drift left despite a thunderous home crowd baying for the points.

31m Cuthbert t 5-0
35m Jenkins t Patchell c 12-0
50m Cuthbert t 17-0
58m Patchell t Patchell c 24-0
70m Bernabo t 24-5
80m G Smith t 29-5

Cardiff Blues: 15 Aled Summerhill, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Tom Isaacs, 12 Gavin Evans (G Smith 66), 11 Richard Smith, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Tavis Knoyle (L Williams 28); 1 Gethin Jenkins (Davies 60), 2 Kristian Dacey (R Williams 48), 3 Adam Jones (Filise 60), 4 Filo Paulo, 5 Lou Reed (Turnbull 73), 6 Macauley Cook, 7 Sam Warburton (Vosawai 60), 8 Josh Navidi

Replacements: 16 Rhys Williams, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Taufa’ao Filise, 19 Josh Turnbull, 20 Manoa Vosawai, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Garyn Smith, 23 Gareth Anscombe