‘Ridiculous in the best way’ – Fans rave about Owen Farrell’s incredible piece of skill against Cardiff Blues

15 Dec

Owen Farrell showed just why he is considered one of the best fly-halfs in world rugby with an utterly sublime piece of skill against Cardiff Blues.

Saracens were forced to work for their Champions Cup win in the Welsh capital, but ultimately prevailed 14-26.

Farrell was as composed and clinical as ever from the tee

In tricky conditions and with a partisan crowd, the reigning Premiership champions needed their big performers to step up and deliver away from home.

Never one to shirk a challenge, Farrell showcased his outstanding kicking game from varying distances and produced a moment of magic which effectively turned the game.

With the scores at 14-16 and the Blues putting the visitors under increasing pressure, the England international collected a wonderfully weighted grubber kick on his own touchline.

Aware of the attackers closing in on him, the 27-year-old showed great footwork to step away from the tacklers before producing an outrageous off-load out the back to the waiting Andy Goode.

From that moment on, Sarries began to take control of the game and effectively dominate their beleaguered opponents, with Farrell ensuring the scoreboard kept ticking over with his penalty kicking.

Jamie George also went over for the visitors late on, but it was his international colleague who took the plaudits for his moment of magic. Check out the best Tweets below!

Gethin Jenkins: Wales’ all-time appearance maker will retire from the sport after Cardiff Blues’ PRO14 match against Zebre this weekend

31 Oct

Gethin Jenkins is “very proud of everything” he has achieved in his career as he prepares to retire from rugby.

The 37-year-old prop, who is also Wales’ record cap holder will call time on his career after Cardiff Blues’ Guiness PRO14 match against Zebre on Sunday.

Jenkins has been described as a “legend of Welsh rugby” by Cardiff Blues head coach John Mulvihill

He made 129 appearances for Wales during a Test career that spanned 14 years, and toured three times with the British and Irish Lions, playing in five Tests.

Announcing his retirement, the Blues said that Jenkins, who made his Wales debut in 2002, has been battling to overcome a chronic knee injury.

He will now take up a coaching role within the Cardiff Blues academy.

Jenkins was part of three Six Nations Grand Slam campaigns with Wales – in 2005, 2008 and 2012 – and is regarded as one of his country’s all-time great players, combining powerful set-piece ability with prolific tackling and breakdown work, in addition to outstanding handling skills.

Jenkins has 129 caps for Wales – more than any other player

“I have been working hard rehabbing over the last three months and I was confident I was going to be back playing, so it’s disappointing to be retiring after Sunday’s game against Zebre,” he said.

“It’s obviously a big decision, but I’ve had a good innings, it’s time to finish and I am looking forward to one more run-out on the weekend and hopefully finishing on a high.

“The pain I have been experiencing from rugby, in my daily life, simply isn’t tolerable, but it is important to me that after all the work I have put in, I run out with my team one last time and finish on my own terms.

“I’m very proud of everything I have achieved in my career.

“I have so many memories from over the years and could stay here all day listing them, but the biggest thing I will miss is that camaraderie with the boys, the buzz of running out and playing, and the feeling in the changing rooms after a win.”

Jenkins has played almost 200 games in two stints with the Blues, while he also spent a season with French club Toulon, and Blues head coach John Mulvihill added: “Gethin Jenkins is a legend of Welsh rugby, a great servant for both club and country.

“After early discussions, it was always my intention to have Gethin decide when he would like to call an end to this playing career.

“He will be a massive loss to us in a playing sense, but his presence as a coach will be a great asset to us going forward.

“After 13 seasons at Cardiff Blues, at the top of his game, this weekend marks the end of an era at the club.”

Jenkins’ 134 Tests for Wales and the Lions sees him lie fourth on international rugby union’a all-time appearance list behind Richie McCaw, Brian O’Driscoll and George Gregan.

Jenkins celebrates winning the European Rugby Challenge Cup with Cardiff Blues in May

His last game for Wales was a win against South Africa at the Principality Stadium two years ago, when Jenkins captained the team.

Blues chairman Peter Thomas said: “Gethin is a player of immense quality and a brilliant leader who sets the standards both on and off the field.

“While it is disappointing that his playing career is coming to an end, we are very pleased that all of his experience and expertise will be retained in the Cardiff Blues family.

“I cannot thank Gethin enough for the enormous contribution he has made, not only to ourselves at Cardiff Blues, but Welsh and world rugby generally.”

Rugby union news: Wales call up uncapped Cardiff Blues fly-half Jarrod Evans

23 Oct

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has called up uncapped Cardiff Blues fly-half Jarrod Evans into his squad for the upcoming autumn Tests.

The 22-year-old becomes the third international rookie in Gatland’s group, joining Leicester back Jonah Holmes and Ospreys wing Luke Morgan.

Jarrod Evans could be in line to make his senior Wales debut next month

Evans, a former Wales Under-20 international, was already training with the squad.

But he now gains an official call-up ahead of games against Scotland, Australia, Tonga and South Africa next month, the Welsh Rugby Union have announced.

The WRU added that Scarlets fly-half Rhys Patchell continues to make progress with his rehabilitation following concussion.

It appears likely that Evans will be involved in Wales’ match-day 23 for the Scotland fixture on November 3.

His Blues colleague Gareth Anscombe is a clear favourite to wear the number 10 shirt, but Evans would be a strong candidate for the replacements’ bench, particularly as Northampton fly-half Dan Biggar is unavailable.

Wales will play Scotland, Australia, Tonga and South Africa at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff next month

As the Scotland clash falls outside World Rugby’s autumn Test window, England-based players like Biggar, Saracens back Liam Williams and Worcester wing Josh Adams are ruled out.

After Scotland, Wales face the Wallabies on November 10, followed by Tonga seven days later and then South Africa on November 24.

Ospreys lock Bradley Davies, meanwhile, has been released from the Wales squad because of a knee problem.

Davies, who has won 64 caps, will undergo further investigation and assessments, the WRU said.

European Rugby Champions Cup round-up: Newcastle claim brilliant victory over Montpellier, Leinster suffer agonising defeat at Toulouse

21 Oct

It’s been an eventful day in the European Champions Cup. Here is the best of Sunday’s action.

Newcastle 23-20 Montpellier

Newcastle snatched a dramatic 23-20 victory over star-studded Montpellier to go top of their pool in the Champions Cup.

With England head coach Eddie Jones in the stand, Newcastle led 16-6 at half-time and after last weekend’s heroics against Toulouse, the Falcons looked to be heading for another win against a side boasting a dozen internationals led by France number eight Louis Picamoles.

But Ruan Pienaar kicked two crucial penalties and lock Paul Willemse rumbled over for a try to give the visitors a 20-16 lead. But with the clock showing full time, the Falcons mounted one last attack following a penalty to the corner and after a staggering 39 phases, lock Callum Chick was driven over and Joel Hodgson converted for a last-gasp victory which takes Newcastle top of pool five.

Callum Chick and Gary Graham celebrate the brilliant win for Falcons

Toulouse 28-27 Leinster

Leinster’s impressive unbeaten run in the Heineken Champions Cup shuddered to a dramatic halt as the reigning champions fell to a 28-27 defeat at Pool 1 rivals Toulouse.

After last weekend’s bonus-point victory over Wasps, Leinster – who won all their games on their march to the title last season – started the match at Stade Ernest Wallon as favourites against their fellow four-time European champions.

But an end-to-end game turned on a raking length-of-the-field interception try in the dying minutes.

Replacement Louis-Benoit Madaule picked up a loose pass and released Toulouse’s flying backs division. Moments later, Maxime Medard scored his second try of the afternoon to wrest back a lead the hosts had held until midway through the second half.

Leinster was so close to claiming the win

Cardiff Blues 12-29 Glasgow

Glasgow opened their Heineken Champions Cup account with a 29-12 bonus point victory over Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park.

But the real beneficiaries were Pool Three leaders Saracens, who are four points clear of their rivals heading into December home and away fixtures against the Blues.

Glasgow, beaten at home by Saracens last weekend, did not look back after fly-half Adam Hastings and wing DTH van der Merwe scored tries in the first five minutes.

Hastings also added a conversion and penalty before half-time, and when scrum-half Ali Price rounded off a crisp move early in the second period, the only serious debate was whether or not Glasgow would claim a five-point maximum.

Early tries from Adam Hastings (pictured) and DTH van der Merwe set Glasgow on their way to victory

Glasgow got there when lock Jonny Gray added a fourth try 12 minutes from time – again converted by Hastings – and there was no doubting their supremacy over a Blues side that fell way short of repeating last Sunday’s performance when they beat Lyon in France.

Wing Aled Summerhill claimed two consolation tries for the Blues, with Gareth Anscombe adding a conversion, but they were also chasing a game that, in truth, was beyond reach following Glasgow’s early onslaught.

European Champions Cup: Newcastle claim shock win at Toulon, Danny Cipriani impresses for Gloucester in front of Eddie Jones

14 Oct

Here’s what happened in Sunday’s European games.

Toulon 25-26 Newcastle

Newcastle kick-started their Heineken Champions Cup campaign with a stunning 26-25 win against three-time European champions Toulon on their own patch, becoming just the second side to do so.

Their only previous defeat in 24 games in Europe’s top tournament had been against Saracens two years ago, and Newcastle – bottom of the Gallagher Premiership going into the game – had to do it the hard way.

Newcastle celebrate their stunning victory

Dean Richards’ side found themselves 10 points behind early on after conceding one of the quickest tries in the history of the competition when giant lock Romain Taofifenua charged down a clearing kick with only 21 seconds on the clock.

Francois Trinh-Duc added the conversion and then kicked a seventh-minute penalty to make it 10-0 to the home side, but that was as good as it got for the hosts.

They had three players sent to the sin-bin – prop Jean-Baptiste Gros, full back Daniel Ikpefan and winger Julian Savea – and were left to rue a decision in the final five minutes to kick for the corner, rather than take the three points on offer that might have won the game.

But after Loan Goujon’s opening try and Lionel Beauxis’ conversion and penalty, the visitors gradually took command to show their attacking prowess, with Gareth Anscombe scoring a spectacular solo try during the fightback.

Gloucester 19-14 Castres

Gloucester became the first English club to win a game in this season’s Champions Cup as they beat Castres at Kingsholm.

And four days before England head coach Eddie Jones names his autumn Test squad, fly-half Danny Cipriani led from the front.

The Gloucester playmaker, who was left out of Jones’ latest training group last month, kicked four penalties and a conversion for a 14-point haul as the England boss looked on.

Cipriani was on form in Gloucester’s win

Glasgow 3-13 Saracens

Saracens were made to scrap all the way as Mike Rhodes’ early try proved enough to see off gritty Glasgow 13-3 at Scotstoun.

The two sides had crossed a combined 57 tries in just six matches apiece in the build-up to their Heineken Champions Cup opener but the expected score-fest failed to materialise.

Instead, the cross-border skirmish proved to be a tense, bad-blooded affair pot-marked by basic errors, inexplicable refereeing calls and numerous feisty head-to-heads.

Rhodes’ early try set Sarries on their way to the win

In the end, Rhodes’ first-half touchdown and eight points from the boot of Owen Farrell gave the joint-Gallagher Premiership leaders first blood in Pool 3, leaving Glasgow ahead of what already appears to be a make-or-break trip to Cardiff next Sunday.

Lyon 21-30 Cardiff

Cardiff Blues marked their return to the Champions Cup after a four-season gap with only their fourth win in 21 games on French soil.

Lyon’s debut in the tournament got off to a flyer, taking a 10-0 lead as they sought revenge for their double defeat to the Blues as the Welsh side went all the way to win the Challenge Cup for the second time last season.