Padova 10-28 Caerphilly
Thomas was the key man for Caerphilly
Caerphilly are only 80 minutes away from an historic Parker Pen
Shield final after a superb comeback against Petrarca Padova at Stadio
Plebiscito in Italy.
Mark Ring's underdogs outscored Padova three tries to one and take
an 18-point cushion into the return leg at Virginia Park on Saturday, 28 April.
Second-half tries from veteran winger Geraint Lewis, replacement number eight
Andrew Williams and fly-half Justin Thomas secured the victory, with Thomas
adding 13 points from the boot.
Caerphilly were rocked by an early try from Padova's huge Samoan number eight
Nic Fitisemanu and five points from the boot of Argentinian full-back Facundo
But three Thomas penalties kept the visitors in the match at the break,
trailing only 10-9.
The only negative for Ring was the first-half injury to influential number
eight Mark Workman, and if his broken ankle is confirmed he will sit out
remainder of Caerphilly's season.
In the other semi-final, Castres won the battle of the French clubs with a comprehensive 54-25 first leg win over Pau, which leave them as overwhelming favourites to make the final.
Petrarca Padova: F Soler; F Faggiotto, M Bergamasco, R Salvan, M Baroni; A Marcato, P Travagli; A Muraro, L Ferraro, M Matteralia, D Tumiati, G Llanos, M Bortolami, H Mazzocco, N Fitisemanu.
Replacements: G Boccalon, L Piovan, R Bortolato, R Rampazzo, D Dalla Nora, M Farsura, A Chillon.
Caerphilly: S Tuipulotu; G Lewis, R Boobyer, R Higgett, T Taufahema; J Thomas, A Chilten; L Manning, F Vunipola, D Sweet, D Davies, P Jones, J El-Abd, S Grainger, M Workman.
Replacements: G Liddon, T Carless, N Rouse, A Williams, G Jones, F McLaughlin, R Howells.
Ref: Gregg Davies (Scotland)