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Anscombe delighted to do the double

15th January 2018

Gareth Anscombe was delighted to kick a frustrating festive period into touch as Cardiff Blues completed a double over Toulouse to book their place in the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup.

The Wales international was in irrepressible form at full-back as he created a try, scored another and picked up the Heineken man-of-the-match award.

It was enough to secure an 18-13 victory at the Arms Park, which ensured the Blues would win Pool 2 and qualify for the knockout stages with a game to spare.

Despite comfortably winning the pool, it is unlikely that the Blues will claim a home quarter-final but Anscombe is refusing to give up hope as he targets another French double over Lyon.

He said: “It was pleasing to get the win after a couple of weeks of frustration for us as a team, losing two close games hurt us. 

“It’s nice to get a quarter-final and hopefully we can now push on for a home one. It takes a little bit of pressure off and is something we had targeted after the boys did a hell of a job out in Toulouse to set us up. 

“It’s nice to book that, it’s good for the club and hopefully results go our way because a home quarter-final at the Arms Park would be pretty special.

“As a squad getting out of the pool was something we wanted to achieve, we want to play in the bigger games and whatever happens in the next few weeks, hopefully we’re in charge of that.”

The scores were tied 10-10 at half-time in Cardiff and Toulouse took the lead early in the second-half thanks to a second Thomas Ramos drop goal.

But the Blues, who had just brought on Lloyd Williams and Steve Shingler, struck with a set-play, which saw Anscombe finish in the corner, to add to Tomos Williams’ first-half effort.

He then added a late penalty to put the victory beyond doubt despite having three tries ruled out by the television match official.

Anscombe continued: “At half-time we were frustrated and pretty disappointed because we felt we were fairly dominant but there were a couple of mistakes and they capitalised really well. 

“It was pretty frantic and both teams tried to capitalise on turnovers. They are a massive team and we tried to move them around as much as we could and turnovers were a big part of our game plan. 

“In the second-half we were a little bit more clinical and played at the right ends of the park for longer periods.

“In the first-half they defended really well and they put a lot in their front line which caught us a little off guard so we spoke about trying to push them back a bit. 

“The subs came on and turned them. We tried to make them work hard from their 22 and in the last 15 minutes we had good territory which took the pressure off.

“It was nice to take one or two opportunities towards the end and put the game in our favour.”

Who Cardiff Blues will face in the quarter-finals remains to be seen and there is still slim hope of a home draw. However, a knockout encounter on the road is more likely, with Connacht, Edinburgh and Gloucester the most likely destinations.

Anscombe was aware that Sale Sharks’ slender victory over Lyon had done his side a favour and ensured a win at the Arms Park would be enough to qualify but putting derby defeats behind them was the biggest motivator.

He added: “A few guys were aware of what we needed to decide the pool but at the end of the day we just wanted to win at home. We hadn’t won in two weeks and we were fairly confident we could get the job done. 

“It’s nice that we booked that top spot and now we want to push on. A little bit of pressure is off and hopefully we can go to Lyon and do a job.”