Five-star Blues too good for Zebre
PRO14 REPORT: Cardiff Blues got back to winning ways on Saturday with a comprehensive five-try, 37-8 win over Italian side Zebre.
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 also strode over the line in the first half and Welsh international Matthew Rees 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.
The side from the Welsh capital came into the game knowing that a win would lift them above Zebre in Conference A and looked in control right from the off.
After just six minutes the home side had the first score of the evening, with Halaholo feeding Williams on the left and the scrumhalf racing away 70 metres to touch down.
Minutes later Carlo Canna swept over a penalty from 25 metres out but the Blues kept pushing to extend their advantage – with James and Steve Shingler both coming close to the line.
On 19 minutes the hosts displayed the penetration they were looking for with a set move finding Halaholo on a scything line back inside that took him past Canna’s challenge and 40 metres to the tryline.
The centre was only able to touch the ball down in the corner but Shingler added an impressive conversion before notching two penalties that gave the Blues an 18-3 half-time lead.
The Welsh side remained on the front foot after the break and was rewarded on 52 minutes with a try for hooker Matthew Rees.
A superb Shingler kick found touch five metres out from the Zebre line and Rees was able to burrow over from the back of the resultant driving line-out.
There was fight from Zebre but the home side was in no mood to let up and got the bonus point on 62 minutes with Morgan passing to winger Blaine Scully and then receiving the same pass back as he crossed the line.
Five minutes later and it was five tries for the Blues with James racing away down the left to get his name on the scoresheet.
Despite being 37-3 down the Italian side pushed hard to register a try in the final five minutes and achieved their target when Palazzani took a quick penalty to batter his way over the line from ten metres out.
For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Williams, Halaholo, Rees, Morgan, James
Cons: Shingler 3
Pens: Shingler 2
Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Aled Summerhill, 13 Garyn Smith, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Blaine Scully 10 Steve Shingler, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Ollie Robinson, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Macauley Cook, 3 Taufa’ao Filise, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Gethin Jenkins (captain).
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Keiron Assiratti, 19 George Earle, 20 Sion Bennett, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Ben Jones, 23 Tom James.
Zebre: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Giulio Bisegni, 13 Mattia Bellini, 12 Tommaso Castello (captain), 11 Gabriele Di Giulio, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Derick Minnie, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Giovanni Licata, 5 Valerio Bernabò, 4 Leonard Krumow, 3 Eduardo Bello, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Sami Panico.
Replacements: 16 Luhandre Luus, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Jacopo Sarto, 20 Renato Giammarioli, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Serafin Bordoli, 23 Ciaran Gaffney.
Referee: Sean Gallagher (Ireland)
Assistant referees: David Wilkinson (Ireland), Mike English (Wales)
TMO: Neil Hennessey (Wales)