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Anscombe pleased winning start to Champions Cup

16th October 2018

Gareth Anscombe was delighted with Cardiff Blues' game management as they battled back from a 10-point deficit to claim a momentous victory over Lyon at Matmut Stadium de Gerland.

The Blues were facing an uphill challenge as the colossal French club bulldozed their way to a commanding lead in their first ever game in the Heineken Champions Cup.

It appeared ominous for Wales’ Capital Region but they fought back admirably, striking for two sucker punch tries, through Olly Robinson and Ellis Jenkins, before taking control of the encounter thanks to the boot of Anscombe and an electric individual try.

It was Cardiff Blues’ ninth victory in 10 games against French opposition, their fourth in a row in all competitions and the second week in a row Anscombe scooped the man-of-the-match award.

They triumphed twice over Lyon was season but this was all the more sweeter and was the ideal start in their return to the top tier of Europe.

He said: “I don’t know if it (my performance) was worthy of being man-of-the-match as there were a lot very good performances out there, particularly the boys in the front-line, who defended really well, and I thought Tomos Williams was outstanding.

“I was a bit fortuitous (for my try) that a bit of space opened up and I managed to get over the line, which probably swayed everybody’s vote. 

“It was a big win for us, away from home and not many would have given us a chance of winning. We were probably a bit slow starting and let them dictate play a bit too much in the first 20 minutes but we really grew into our work and that gave us a sense of belief.

“Playing into the swirling wind was difficult in the first half so going in at half-time only a point behind, we really felt we could open them up and dictate play in the second and that’s what we did. 

“I felt like they had thrown everything they could against us in that first quarter and in a way we were annoyed because we hadn’t fired any shots. 

“They had given everything they had, we were only 10-points down and I felt we could easily claw that back. We blew a couple of opportunities in the first half where we weren’t quite clinical enough but we hung in there and knew we would get a few more opportunities. 

“In the second half, we tried to get to the ball to the edges more and we felt if we could do that we could hurt them. 

“We did exactly that well, got behind them and scored a nice try. We shifted our game nicely in the second-half and strangled them with our defence as well.” 

Glasgow Warriors are up next at Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday, October 21 (3.15pm), before a December double-header against English giants Saracens.

Anscombe knows there is still a huge amount to do, if the Blues are to qualify for the knockout stages but knows that all-important away win gives them a fighting chance.

And while he is acutely aware of the strength of Glasgow, who lead Conference A in the PRO14, and Saracens, he is confident his side can compete in any encounter, providing they perform to their potential. 

He continued: “This is a nice tick and a great start to the competition. To win our last four, especially after losing the first three of the season, it’s nice to go back into training with a smile and we’re now on a bit of a roll. 

“We have grown into a habit of winning games whereas before the shoe was probably on the other foot. 

“There’s another big game coming with Glasgow at home and if we win that then that’s all you can ask for. We have given ourselves. 

“We won’t get ahead of ourselves, it’s a big win away from home and sets us up nicely for a big game at home next week.

“We have always said internally that if we play to what we are capable of then we can really hurt teams and put them under pressure. 

“We know there are some big names coming, some clubs with big budgets but when we are on our A game we can put teams under pressure. That’s all you can ask.” 

Anscombe, who is likely to be named in Wales’ autumn squad today, switched to full-back for the encounter, with Jarrod Evans starting at fly-half.

It was the same combination of having two play-makers that saw Cardiff Blues clinch the Challenge Cup last season and while Anscombe makes no secret of his preference to play 10, he is more than happy to fill either jersey if that is what is best for the team.

He added: “My role is to bring some control and to dictate from wherever I play. I prefer to do that at 10 but if asked to do it from 15 then I have to link up with Jarrod as much as possible, try to take pressure off his shoulders, add a voice and bit more out wide. 

“I thought the boys gave us a platform to do that. I just have to keep playing consistently well to put my hand up for whatever position the team needs we.”

Cardiff Blues face Glasgow Warriors on Sunday, October 21. Tickets are available now and can be purchased by clicking here or calling 029 20 302030.