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PREVIEW: Cardiff Blues still targetting home quarter-final

Wednesday 21st January 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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Europe is providing a welcome distraction for these unbeaten sides who both have ambitions of going all the way to a second Challenge Cup Final. - 04/12/2014 14:36

Europe is providing a welcome distraction for these unbeaten sides who both have ambitions of going all the way to a second Challenge Cup Final. - 04/12/2014 14:36

Grenoble came close to doing Cardiff Blues a huge favour in the last round but the Welsh club cannot afford any slip-ups in the Alps.

The French club came close to upsetting Pool 1 leaders London Irish before they were edged out 43-41 at the Madejski Stadium.

A Grenoble victory would have put Cardiff in the driving seat for top spot but now Mark Hammett’s side must hope Irish slip up against Rovigo to win the group. As it stands, a single bonus points will take them through to the quarter-finals as a best runner-up.

Hammett said: “I was surprised by Grenoble’s performance last week but it’s a real wake-up call because French teams are usually stronger at home than away.

“We had to work hard to break them down in the first game in Cardiff so we’re under no illusion that it will be a tough game out there. But we want to qualify for the quarter-finals and hopefully get a home tie, so we have to get a good win.

“Hopefully if other results go our way then we can still get a home quarter-final but it is still about keeping standards, so this game is as important as last week and the week before that.”

The form guide suggests plenty of points at Stade Lesguiederes. Cardiff head to France having torn up the record books in their 104-12 win over Rovigo last week. Richard Smith scored a hat-trick while Lloyd Williams and Elis Jenkins both scored a brace as Blues ran in 16 tries against the Italians.

Grenoble also found their scoring touch with hooker Laurent Bouchet grabbing two of his team’s four tries at London Irish while full-back Julien Caminati scored 14 points.

Match Facts

  • Grenoble have lost four of their five meetings with Welsh sides in this tournament.
  • The top two try scorers in the Challenge Cup this season are Grenoble’s Laurent Bouchet and Cardiff’s Richard Smith (both five).
  • Cardiff have won three of their four away games in the Challenge Cup, and have scored at least 18 points in all four of these matches.
  • This will be Cardiff’s first away game in France in this competition, they won on just three of 20 trips in the Heineken Cup.


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REPORT: Blues through to last eight

Saturday 24th January 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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En déplacement à Bristol pour la première journée d'European Rugby Challenge Cup

En déplacement à Bristol pour la première journée d'European Rugby Challenge Cup

Cardiff Blues celebrated progressing to the quarter-finals with a workmanlike 28-3 victory over Grenoble in France.

Mark Hammett’s side defied near blizzard conditions to take maximum point in the Alps.

Lloyd Williams scored the only try of the first half before the Blues scrum did the damage, earning two penalty tries before leading Josh Navidi over for the bonus-point.

The result was not enough to overtake London Irish, who won in Rovigo, at the top of Pool 1 but ensure Cardiff progress as the best runner-up in sixth seed.

Cardiff were already through to the knock-out stages before this game kicked-off courtesy of Edinburgh’s victory over Bordeaux-Begles but retained a strong side to ensure avoiding top seeds Gloucester in the next round.

That also allowed them to throw caution to the wind and despite playing into a snowfall, Cardiff were rewarded for their ambition with the game’s opening try on 25 minutes.

Skipper Gethin Jenkins turned down the chance of three points and opted to kick for the corner, from where scrum-half Williams spotted a gap in the French lineout and darted through to touch down.

Anscombe converted for a 7-0 lead that was reduced within six minutes when Hart kicked Grenoble’s first points.

However given Cardiff spent the first half playing headlong into the conditions, Hammett will have been the far happier coach at half-time with a 7-3 lead.

Opposite number, former Ireland hooker Bernard Jackman, made five changes at the break including four to his pack.

But despite briefly threatening early in the second-half, those replacements failed to hold out Cardiff’s forwards.

A series of drives by the Blues pack ended with Grenoble hooker Loick Jammes binned infringing close to his own line.

With the extra-man, Cardiff made the most of his absence at the scrum until replacement Fabien Alexandre kicked the ball away to concede a penalty try on 57 minutes that Anscombe converted.

Cardiff's greater urgency began to tell as the game wore on. Tavis Knoyle, Matthew Rees and Cuthbert all went close.

The pressure told as Alexandre was shown a yellow card for knocking the ball out of Knoyle’s grasp as Cardiff surged forward close to the line.

Again the Blues scrum turned the screw and again Scottish referee David Wilkinson awarded a penalty try as Grenoble’s set-piece disintegrated.  

Just seven minutes later and with Adam Jones at the helm, Cardiff did the same again only this time No8 Navidi was allowed to get the touch down and claim a bonus point just before the final whistle.

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