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International Round-Up: Cardiff Blues quarter help Wales to number one

Blues News | 19th August 2019


A quartet of Cardiff Blues stars featured for Wales on Saturday, as they hosted England in the second Rugby World Cup warm-up fixture.

Wales 13 England 6

Wales rose to the summit of World Rugby's rankings following a gritty victory over rivals, England, at the Welsh capital.

Following defeat to Eddie Jones' side at Twickenham the previous week, Warren Gatland made minimal changes to his line-up, with only James Davies, Jake Ball and Dan Biggar introduced to the starting XV.

Josh Adams retained his place in the back three, but the home side were forced to make a further change at the 11th hour as Liam Williams was ruled out with injury, allowing Cardiff Blues academy graduate, Leigh Halfpenny, the opportunity to take hold of the number 15 jersey.

The hosts were dealt a further blow at the end of the first quarter, with openside flanker Davies was taken off with a head injury. Cardiff Blues back row, Josh Navidi, was introduced into proceedings, making a return to action following an elbow injury suffered against Scarlets in March.

Following intense and physical opening exchanges between the two sides, the deadlock was finally broken by the boot of Biggar, who slotted a penalty after the English defensive line strayed offside.

Navidi impressed with his physicality, almost immediately winning a turnover, before Wales struck for the only try of the encounter.

Anthony Watson was sent to the sin bin after being penalised for a deliberate knock on, and Biggar caught the English defence napping with a quick crossfield kick, which found a rampant Adams on the right hand side. The inbound Cardiff Blues wing made strides deep into the England half, managing to offload to Jonathan Davies.

The ball was recycled to Biggar, who once again kicked towards the touchline, with George North on hand to pluck the ball out of the air and touch down for a poacher's effort.

Outside half Biggar, who would be named man of the match, made no mistakes from the conversion to give Wales a 10-point lead at half time.

The second half became a kicking battle as England looked to battle their way back into contention. Ford's two penalties weren't enough, as Halfpenny's long range penalty sealed the victory for Warren Gatland's side.

Dillon Lewis and Jarrod Evans also added further caps to their names from the bench as Wales rose to become the world's official number one side for the first time.

Wales under-18 18 France under-18 14

Wales under-18 finished their South African trip on a high, as they claimed a dramatic victory over their French counterparts in Wellington, with Cardiff Blues' Mason Grady the stand-out star once again.

Following a narrow defeat to South Africa Schools and a tense draw against South Africa Schools A, Chris Horsman's side were looking to finish their campaign on a high, and got off to a perfect start as outside half Thomas Mathews opened the scoring from the tee.

Both sides looked to play with an attacking initiative, making for an entertaining encounter, but France struck back to take the lead as Wesley Lindor crossed for the game's first try, which was duly converted by Nolan Le Garrec.

Grady, who had scored a sensational individual score in the previous game, was causing the French defence all sorts of trouble, alongside full back Dan John - son of former Cardiff Blues coach, Paul.

Grady once again displayed his devastating combination of pace and power to cross in the corner, with Mathew's conversion making it 10-7 at the interval.

France looked to have snatched a win at the death as Enzo Lanzutti wormed his way down the wing, but Wales had the final word, with Grady beating three defenders out wide to touch down in the final play and secure the win for his side.

Home Nations Women under-18 Sevens - Swansea University

Six Cardiff Blues representatives were picked for the Wales Women under-18 Sevens side as they battled out against their home nations rivals in Swansea over the weekend.

Wales' Capital Region's Hannah Powell was selected as skipper, as they prepare for the Rugby Europe tournament in Poland in two weeks time.

Wales secured a 17-12 win over Scotland o the first day of action Day One. They suffered two losses to England – 26-5 in the opening match and 24-0 in the 2nd v 3rd match on Day Two. The young Welsh side also went down twice to Ireland – 19-10 on Day One with a last minute try for the Irish and 31-14 in the 3rd v 4th place match on Day Two.

However, head coach Jonathan Hooper remains positive with his side's progression.

“It’s been a very encouraging weekend”, said Hooper. “It’s an exciting tournament and the standard gets better every year.

“Lots of players got lots of game time and we’re excited to get back to training now to prepare for Poland at the end of the month.

“The squad were led well by captain Hannah Powell and battled hard throughout. Playing five quality matches over two days has given us a great platform to kick on ahead of Rugby Europe. We have England, Ukraine and Belgium in our pool so will take a lot from playing England twice in Swansea.

“I can’t fault the effort and attitude of the players and from a performance perspective we are not far from where we want to be. It was great to host the tournament in Wales and all the teams were all well-supported.”