Pataro Calvisano 16 - 38 Cardiff Blues
Sat 16 November 13:30 Pata Stadium Att: 2,000 Ref: Craig Maxwell-Keys European Challenge Cup

Calvisano 16 Cardiff Blues 38

Sat 16 Nov 2019 15:23 Calvisano 16 Cardiff Blues 38

 Cardiff Blues battled to a hard-fought victory over Rugby Calvisano, eventually securing a maximum point haul following a devastating final quarter at Pata Stadium.

The Blues were made to battle for every inch against a fired up Italian outfit and led by just one point mid-way through the second-half despite early tries from Matthew Morgan and Seb Davies.

It appeared ominous but Wales’ Capital Region remained focused and they burst into life in the final quarter with James Botham, Rey Lee-Lo and Harri Millard all crossing to secure the five points.

The European campaign continues next week as Leicester Tigers travel to the Welsh capital, with the sides set to face-off for the first time in Europe since the infamous Heineken Cup semi-final shoot-out in 2009.

The Blues went into the encounter with a 100 per cent record against the Italian outfit and they threatened straight from the off.

A long pass from Willis Halaholo, inside his own 22, created the first opening as Matthew Morgan set off down the left and then found Lewis Jones in support on the inside. The scrum-half grubber-kicked ahead and collected but he could not quite beat the defence.

Harri Millard was next to threaten the try line but the Blues had to wait until five minutes for their first try. With the luxury of advantage Evans dinked a chip over the top, Morgan collected on the bounce and left Calvisano full-back Kayle Van Zyl for dead.

Evans added the extras and following another sustained period of pressure, which saw Harries and Macauley Cook combine on the right, he slotted a penalty to make it 10-0 inside 10 minutes.

Calvisano also threatened in the opening quarter and they were rewarded for their efforts with a Paolo Pescetto penalty.

The hosts continued their fight back with their pack and particularly former Italy number eight Samu Vunisa flexing their muscle. And it was the Fijian born powerhouse’s offload out the back that released Giacomo De Santis for a well-deserved try.

Pescetto converted to level the scores but the Blues were soon back in front. Morgan was instrumental throughout, appearing on the left and then right as he made the scoring pass to Davies.

The number eight had Harries in support but turned on the after burners and bundled through three defenders to score with Evans once again on target.

The Blues were dealt a blow as they lost Keiron Assiratti to the sin-bin for going off his feet at the breakdown, but they weathered a storm in the final minutes to enter the break leading 17-10.

Following an error-strewn opening to the second-half, Calvisano worked their way back into the game and Pescetto cut Cardiff Blues’ advantage to four on 53 minutes.

It appeared as though the Blues had manufactured a breakthrough as the hour mark approached with Halaholo taking the ball at first receiver and playing it out the back to Evans.

With options all around him, Evans put Harries through a hole with a short ball but the wing was hauled down agonisingly short and despite a prolonged period of pressure the Blues were unable to make it count.

And Pescetto kept the scoreboard ticking as the fired-up hosts, grew and grew in confidence as the game went on with the score now 17-16.

With nerves shredded among the traveling supporters in the stands, the Blues stuck to task finally got their breakthrough. A tip on from Ethan Lewis, which released James Ratti did the damage as the second-row cantered towards the whitewash on debut.

He was tackled short but possession was maintained and several phases later James Botham crashed over to cap his first European appearance.

Evans expertly converted from the touchline and minutes later he was back at the tee after sparking a stunning effort.

After collecting a box-kick on his own 22, he beat three defenders and raced into the Calvisano half on an arcing run before finding Rey Lee-Lo who finished the job.

The try wrapped up the bonus-point and Evans maintained his 100 per cent strike rate with another fine effort from wide.