Lyon 21 - 30 Cardiff Blues
HT 16-14
Sun 14 October 14:00 Matmut Stade de Gerland Att: 12,197 Ref: JP Doyle Heineken Champions Cup

Lyon OU 21 Cardiff Blues 30

Sun 14 Oct 2018 14:59 Lyon OU 21 Cardiff Blues 30

A 20-point haul from Gareth Anscombe inspired Cardiff Blues to a stunning victory over Lyon in their opening game of the European Champions Cup.

After winning the Challenge Cup in Bilbao, five months ago, Wales' Capital Region returned to the top tier of Europe for the first time since 2014.

They beat Lyon twice on their way to glory last season but following a summer of impressive recruitment and a flying start to the Top 14, a trip to Matmut Stadium de Gerland was a much tougher proposition on this occasion.

The hosts bludgeoned their way into a 10-point advantage early in the encounter and at times it appeared ominous against a colossal French outfit.

However, the Blues channelled that never die spirit of Bilbao as they battled to a thrilling victory in Lyon's first ever game in the competition.

Olly Robinson and Tomos Williams struck for quick-fire tries to momentarily take the lead before Lionel Beauxis gave his side a two-point advantage at the break.

But on fire Anscombe nudged the Blues back in front, kept the scoreboard ticking and struck for a hugely impressive individual try to take the spoils.

Cardiff blues will host Glasgow Warriors next week, looking to build further momentum, while Lyon travel to London, where they face two-times Heineken Champions Cup winners, Saracens.

Lyon made an impressive start to their debut in the Heineken Champions Cup and dominated the opening stages.

Rudi Wulf and Noa Nakaitaci both threatened out wide and after winning a penalty on three minutes they went to the corner.

Lyon were held up over the line but flexed their forward muscle at the ensuing scrum as Loann Goujon powered over despite appearing to knock on at the base.

JP Doyle referred to the TMO but following extensive replays he adjudged that the ball went backwards and the try as given.

Lionel Beauxis slotted the conversion to open up a seven-point lead and he soon added a penalty after Tomos Williams was, perhaps harshly, penalised after getting stuck in a ruck.

The home side continued to control the majority of territory and possession but the tide was stemmed by a superb turnover from Dillon Lewis.

It was soon Cardiff Blues on the attack as Jason Harries broke through a tackle in midfield. He fed Willis Halaholo and the centre appeared to have put Williams away on the inside.

However, Charlie Ngatai recovered and forced the scrum-half to flick the ball back to Halaholo, who did remarkably well to hold on but was then penalised at the breakdown.

The powerful onslaught from the French outfit resumed but their big carriers were continually hit by the Blues manful defence.

Wales' Capital Region finally enjoyed some sustained territory when Jarrod Evans stripped Hendrik Roodt of possession and Halaholo pinned the hosts into their own 22.

His intelligent kick forced Ngatai to concede the lineout and from there the Blues laid siege to the French try-line.

They threatened on several occasions but Lyon managed to cling on with a number of last passes and offloads not quite going to hand at the crucial moment.

A sumptuous grubber kick from Evans looked to have split the Lyon defence but Nakaitaci did just about enough as the bounce defied Lane and he managed to tap the ball out.

From the set-piece, the Blues embarked upon another period of pressure with Evans dummying inside and out as he came agonisingly close to crossing the whitewash.

The frustration grew as a gargantuan Lyon soaked up the pressure and eventually claimed possession to clear.

It appeared as though all of the Blues' hard work was in vein but they struck from the lineout for a fine try.

Robinson secured the lineout and Williams sniped through the home defence from just inside their half-way line.

He tore deep into Lyon territory and fired a pass right to on rushing Robinson, who has just enough in the tank to finish a move he had started in the corner.

Anscombe nailed the touchline conversion and Cardiff soon turned the game on its head with a second try in the space of two minutes.

The Cardiff Blues coaching team had clearly spotted something in their pre-match analysis and after coming close earlier in the half, Ellis Jenkins intercepted off the back of a lineout.

He raced away, with Lyon's pack and the partisan crowd, bewildered and found electric Williams in support on the right. Wulf did remarkably well to get across but the scrum-half stepped inside before diving in the corner acrobatically.

Anscombe was once again on the money but from the opposite touchline to give his side a 10-14 lead.

The hosts appeared shell-shocked but they were offered a route back into the encounter as Anscombe's long clearance somehow trickled dead.

From there the Lyon pack imposed themselves on the encounter once more and Beauxis was able to add a pair of penalties to give his side a 16-14 advantage at the break.

Wales' Capital Region returned from the interval with a renewed willingness to attack with the intent of working the ball wide early.

The threatened almost from the off as they went from the left to the right touchline and back to the left again with Evans and Anscombe pulling the strings.

A long Evans pass put Harries, at full pace, on the outside and after beating one defender he passed inside to Halaholo.

But Lyon covered well and Halaholo's over-ambitious offload was picked off as the hosts survived.

The Blues continued to move the ball and they were soon rewarded with a penalty and Anscombe obliged to boot his side back in front.

A pair of mistakes allowed Lyon back in but the Blues produced pivotal turnovers at crucial moments, first through Robinson and then Dillon Lewis, to pilfer the hosts.

With increasingly rare opportunities they continued to display admirable endeavour with the ball, while Lyon offered a more direct and physical approach.

Anscombe added a second penalty just before the hour mark and three minutes later he struck with a stunning try on the counter-attack.

After receiving the ball from Lane following a Lyon clearance he set upon a scintillating solo attack, scorching past two forwards to break clear.

Jenkins and Williams did well to offer support either side, allowing the 27-year-old to dummy past Beauxis and Ngatai for a fine try.

He added the extras to stretch his personal tally to 17-points and his side continued to throw caution to the wind with Rey Lee-Lo, on for Halaholo, and Harries enjoying space out wide.

With minutes remaining, Cardiff Blues survived an onslaught, as Lyon looked to use their power to strike back, after a fine break from Dylan Cretin.

However, following a series of penalities, Lyon fumbled the ball from the base of a driving line-out, and Garyn Smith cleared downfield.

With only a minute left on the clock, Quentin Delord did strike back for the hosts with a breakaway try.

But, from the restart, Jenkins forced a penalty which Anscombe duly converted to seal a memorable victory.