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Cardiff Blues Premiership Select 27 Doncaster Knights 42

16th December 2017

A Harri Millard hat-trick was not enough, as Cardiff Blues Premiership Select suffered a 27-42 defeat against Doncaster Knights in the British and Irish Cup on Saturday.

Lewis Jones and Callum Bradbury also crossed the whitewash as Justin Burnell sealed a try-scoring bonus point at Sardis Road to pick up their first point of the B&I Cup campaign.

It was a much improved performance from Burnell’s young side who showed plenty of aggression in defence and promise in attack on a cold December afternoon at  Sardis Road.

It was a perfect start for the home side as Sion Edwards and scrum-half Jones combined to take down number eight Jason Hill from the base of a scrum and win the turnover penalty.

Ben Jones found touch inside the 22, and a powerful carry by Sion Bennett in midfield allowed the Blues to spread wide to Millard.

The centre made a clean break, and while his support, Pat Lewis, was taken down inches short of the tryline, Jones was on hand to sneak over from the ruck for the opening score of the game.

Doncaster had an immediate opportunity to reply as Burnell’s side were penalised for offside, allowing Declan Cusack to nudge the ball into touch, inside the Cardiff Blues PS’ 22.

The powerful Knights pack attempted to drive their way over, and while it was initially well defended, scrum-half Tom James found Curtis Wilson on the blindside, who beat his opponent to cross in the corner.

Cardiff Blues PS were dealt an early blow as captain and try-scorer Jones was forced off on 12 minutes, and replaced by 18-year-old Jamie Hill.

Doncaster again looked to use the strength of their pack, as they opted to kick for the corner, and the home side initially held them-up as they crossed the whitewash.

The resulting scrum saw Millard put a crunching hit on his opposite number, but the visitors had men over on the far side, and they took full advantage, with Paul Jarvis having a simple run in for his side’s second of the game.

The young Blues side came under a period of sustained pressure, but showed plenty of bravery and passion in defence to keep Doncaster out when a number of tries seemed inevitable. 

However, the Knights did find a way through on the half-hour mark, as lock Morgan Eames broke and found support from James on his inside, who ran in unopposed from 20 meters.

The Blues reduced the visitors’ lead immediately, as lock Bradbury scored from a peel from a line-out, making it 10-21.

Doncaster were soon back inside the Cardiff Blues PS 22, and desperately looked to secure the bonus point before the break, but the defence held firm to keep the score at 10-21 going into the interval.

It took six minutes of the second half for the visitors to seal their bonus point, as Will Owen ran through tackles from Corey Howells and Lewis to touch down. Cusack maintained his 100 per cent record from the boot to add the extras.

Burnell’s side refused to give in, and a quick tap penalty from replacement Hill gave his side territory to attack. The visitors were penalised again, and Jones kicked for touch, but Eames managed to force a knock on and turn over possession at a crucial time.

A Mat Clark break seemed to put him clear for a score, and despite impressive pace from Hill to halt the centre, his offload found the supporting Charlie Foley who scored his side’s fifth try of the game.

There was a third try for Cardiff Blues PS soon after, as a miss pass by Ben Jones found Cardiff Blues academy's Millard on the perfect angle to slide in, with the outside half converting.

Millard was at it again ten minutes later, as a Dafydd Smith break camped his side on the Doncaster try line. Following a number of phases, centre Millard was on hand to crash over from close range and secure a bonus point.

Wilson sealed his brace as full-time approached, but there was still enough time for Millard to cross for his hat-trick try, as he combined well with Howells.