FemiCZ Rovigo 18 - 33 Cardiff Blues
Sat 25 October 15:00 Mario Battaglini Att: 1,750 Ref: Laurent Cardona European Challenge Cup

Femi-CZ Rugby Rovigo 18 Cardiff Blues 33

Sat 25 Oct 2014 15:45 Femi-CZ Rugby Rovigo 18 Cardiff Blues 33
Blues had opened Pool 2 proceedings with a resounding bonus point win over French side Grenoble last weekend on home soil.

And on the road at Stadio Mario Battaglini in Northern Italy they once again took a maximum haul and overcame a stubborn and spirited Rovigo side, with Wales international front row Jenkins leading the way with a brace.

It was the fired-up hosts that had taken a shock early lead with an interception try from Luciano Rodriguez after less than ten minutes.

But after that it was Blues that slowly took complete control and tries from Jenkins (2), Josh Turnbull, Manoa Vosawai and Macauley Cook ensured they took the spoils and underlined a powerful pack performance.

The score line could have been even more emphatic, with referee Laurent Cardona harshly disallowing tries from Adam Thomas and Richard Smith.

However, the result was never truly in doubt with Blues’ superior power up front, with a driving game that repeatedly shunted Rovigo around the park, ensuring the Euro double header with London Irish ahead of Christmas will be all to play for between the unbeaten top two.

Boss Mark Hammett made eight changes from the side that dispatched Grenoble but Blues immediately looked to pick up where they left off against the French side with a quick start in warm autumnal sunshine.

A poor clearing kick from the full back Davide Farolini almost put Lloyd Williams into space inside the opening minute before Dan Fish was dragged back as he looked to speed down the left wing.

Rovigo, though, looked determined to impress on home soil and a series of penalties saw them kick to the corner and then drive for the line only to knock on. The home side were in no mood to simply roll over and go away quietly.

However, after repelling a sustained first home attack, Blues were guilty of pressing the self-destruct button themselves on ten minutes. Looking to play from deep, a floated pass was picked off by Rodriguez and he had the simple task of jogging in under the posts unopposed.

The response from Blues was immediate and emphatic. They turned to their driving game, worked their way up field and, after kicking to the right corner, crashed over with Jenkins the man to dot down.

Scrum half Williams sparked another attack, as he broke around the fringes, and when a quick tap penalty saw the ball fired down the back line it was Thomas who went over. The centre celebrated only for the referee to harshly judge his left foot was dragged into touch.

The momentum, though, was firmly with Blues and a second score owed much to man-of-the-match hooker Kristian Dacey. With little space to work in, he blasted through a gap and fed Josh Navidi who in turn popped the pass over his left shoulder to Turnbull to crash over.

Try number three followed soon afterwards as again the forwards ground out the hard yards and another kick to the corner produced exactly the same result with Jenkins grabbing his second of the game.

The bonus point was in reach before half-time and the backs looked to cut loose to wrap it up.

A jinking run from Fish put Blues on the front foot, with Cook popping up on the left wing to race into contact. Smith was next to take ball on from deep as Blues looked to release runners into space.

But it was Rovigo that eventually finished the opening 40 minutes in the ascendancy and a period of sustained pressure was rewarded when Farolini slotted a penalty to cut the lead to 19-10 at half-time.

Blues made a half-time change as Allen was replaced by Gavin Evans and the hard-running centre was straight into the thick of the action with a crunching run that bounced off tackles down the middle.

A stolen home lineout released the all-action Dacey and Blues once more rumbled up to the line only for a knock on to deny them.

Rovigo did eat into the lead with another confidently struck penalty from Farolini cutting the advantage to just six points before referee Cardona again ruled out a visiting try, this time for a forward pass in the build-up, to deny Smith.

After half an hour of knocking on the door, Blues finally knocked it down with international Vosawai, back on Italian soil, the man to make the mark. The forwards kept the ball tight and with the line in sight the rampaging Number Eight bulldozed over men.

With the extra point wrapped up, Blues looked to open up the lead and another driving lineout was finished off by Cook with ten minutes left.

But there was to be no final onslaught and it was Rovigo, in similar fashion to the first, who finished the stronger with a short lineout allowing captain Jean-Francois Montauriol to burrow over for a late consolation to the delight of the home fans.
10m Rodriguez t Farolini c 7-0
13m Jenkins t 7-5
24m Turnbull t Patchell c 7-12
29m Jenkins t Patchell c 7-19
40m Farolini p 10-19
50m Farolini p 13-19
62m Vosawai t Patchell c 13-26
69m Cook t Patchell c 13-33
80m Montauriol t 18-33
Cardiff Blues: 15 Rhys Patchell (Walsh 70), 14 Richard Smith, 13 Cory Allen (Evans 40), 12 Adam Thomas, 11 Dan Fish, 10 Gareth Davies, 9 Lloyd Williams (L Jones 59), 1 Gethin Jenkins (Davies 70), 2 Kristian Dacey (R Williams 66), 3 Scott Andrews (A Jones 55), 4 Chris Dicomidis (Paulo 64), 5 Macauley Cook, 6 Josh Turnbull, 7 Josh Navidi (Jenkins 63), 8 Manoa Vosawai

Replacements: 16 Rhys Williams, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Adam Jones, 19 Filo Paulo, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Gavin Evans, 23 Geraint Walsh