Guinness PRO14 Conference A: Cardiff Blues dominate Zebre

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CARDIFF, WALES - OCTOBER 13: Blues player Olly Robinson on the charge during the European Rugby Challenge CUP Match between Cardiff Blues and Lyon at Cardiff Arms Park on October 13, 2017 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

The Cardiff Blues produced a dominant performance to defeat Zebre at the Cardiff Arms Park. The hosts ran in five tries in the bonus point victory with Lloyd Williams, Willis Halaholo, Matthew Rees, Matthew Morgan and Tom James all going over the whitewash. Zebre did manage a consolation try towards the end thanks to substitute scrum half Guglielmo Palazzani. The match finished 37-8 to the Blues. Here is ‘Last Word On Rugby’s’ look at how Cardiff won this Guinness PRO14 Conference A match.

Cardiff Blues 37 – Tries: Lloyd Williams, Willis Halaholo, Matthew Rees, Matthew Morgan, Tom James; Conversions: Shingler (x3); Penalties: Shingler (x2)

Zebre 8 – Tries: Guglielmo Palazzani; Penalties: Canna

Lloyd Williams was the first to strike for the Blues when they signalled their intentions by running the ball out from their own 22. Rampaging centre Willis Halaholo then strode over the line and Matthew Rees also got his name in lights just after the interval. Matthew Morgan and Tom James crossed late on for the Blues, which still left time for Guglielmo Palazzani to get a consolation for the visitors.

What Does This Result Mean To PRO14 Conference A?

Cardiff Blues welcomed Zebre to Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday night hoping to leapfrog the Italian side in the Conference A table. What was at stake? The Blues knew that a win could lift them as high as fourth in the Conference A table and were keen to continue their good form having pushed Scarlets all the way last week and beaten Toulouse in the Challenge Cup. Zebre, meanwhile, have enjoyed an excellent start to their Guinness PRO14 Conference A campaign; a victory for them would have put real pressure on the Cheetahs who currently lie third. Following the result the Blues currently lie fifth and Zebre sixth respectively.

Set Piece a Huge Factor In Blues Dominance

Cardiff Blues dominated the set piece all night, turning over plenty of ball at the Zebre lineout, earning penalties at scrum time and were very solid on their own set piece. The combined age of the Blues starting front row was 114 years and that experience told. The returning Gethin Jenkins played like he’d never been away. What will please Head Coach Danny Wilson the most was the set piece remained strong and could say it looked even stronger when they brought on the young forwards off the bench.

Zebre Return To Their Old Ways

The Italian sides have been a much tougher fixture this season compared to previous years. They have been much improved and everyone was expecting a tough night for the Blues, but it was more like the Zebre of previous seasons. Both sides fell to defeat in Round Seven but Zebre only lost to the Toyota Cheetahs by a point. They would have fancied causing an upset in the Welsh capital. It didn’t turn out that way, their defence was poor and they didn’t offer much in attack other than a couple of line breaks. Their set piece seemed to fall to pieces especially in the second half when the Blues made their superiority count. Michael Bradley will be hoping his men just had an off evening in Cardiff and return to their competitive selves when they host Munster in three weeks time.

Key Player/ Man Of The Match

Cardiff Blues openside flanker Ollie Robinson put in yet another fantastic performance to deservedly earn the man of the match award. The 26 year old was crucial to the Blues dominance at the breakdown and put in an all-action display.

Last Word With Gavin

The Cardiff Blues picked up a much-needed third victory of the season, keeping them in the play-off hunt. It sees them move up to fifth in the Guinness PRO14 conference A. Danny Wilson will be happy with how efficient and dominant his side were, especially at the set piece and breakdown.

The Blues will be hoping to take this form into their next league fixture against Connacht in three weeks’ time. The result of that fixture at the Arms Park will be crucial to the final standings of conference A, with both teams in search of that third play-off spot.

The Italian team have slipped to 6th in conference A, with only the Ospreys below them. They will be hoping it was an off night in Cardiff for them. They host Munster in three weeks time, and they will need to return to their competitive selves by then.

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