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Page last updated at 15:33 GMT, Sunday, 23 May 2010 16:33 UK

Blues hailed for 'gutsy' Euro win

Leigh Halfpenny crosses for his try
Cardiff Blues scored three tries in a dazzling second-half comeback

Coach Dai Young praised Cardiff Blues after their thrilling 28-21 Amlin Challenge Cup final comeback win over Toulon in Marseille's Stade Velodrome.

"It must have been a great game to watch, in the first half we were hanging in by our toenails," he said.

"But we showed guts and determination and when we had the chances we struck.

"We had confidence in our own ability and knew if we got enough ball in the right areas and went through the phases, the opportunities would come."

The Blues' second-half fightback was helped by an injury suffered by Toulon and England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson, who had to be substituted in the 47th minute.

It's disappointing but it's an experience we need

Jonny Wilkinson

"It's disappointing but it's an experience we need," said Wilkinson.

"The match built and built and you try to do your best but you take what you can, stay on route, and if you keep going to the end of the game it'll come together.

"Cardiff just maybe got a few things right that we didn't and that made the difference."

Centre Jamie Roberts scored the crucial try after 50 minutes that, with Ben Blair's conversion, levelled the scores at 13-13.

But Roberts pinpointed the Blues' defence during the latter stages as crucial.

"I think that 10-minute spell of defence won us the game," said the Wales and Lions centre.

"It was incredible and everyone really put their bodies on the line and kept them out.

"I know we leaked at try at the end, but that 10 minutes won us the game.

"I didn't touch a ball in the first half. We struggled a bit in the line-out and we couldn't get any platform, but managed to get hold of the ball in the second half and it was great to score a try.

Blues centre Jamie Roberts listens for silence from Toulon's fans after scoring the try that helped the Blues level 13-13 in the second half
Blues centre Jamie Roberts listens for silence from Toulon's fans after scoring

"But credit to one to 22 - the boys that came off the bench came on and did a great job - and it's great for everyone involved, players, coaches and the travelling fans as well - outstanding.

"The final whistle was my abiding memory. They tried to run it out of defence, Chris Czekaj ripped the ball off their player and that feeling when Richie [Rees] kicked it out - absolutely incredible.

"It's a notch up from the EDF [Cup win] last year and hopefully we can build on this next year."

The Blues become the first Welsh side to win a European final in 15 years of competition.

They are just the fourth team from the country to reach a final, and the first in the regional era.

Young's team began the season in the Heineken Cup, but failed to make the quarter-finals.

606: DEBATE
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They benefited from a reorganisation of the second-tier tournament as second-placed group sides in the Heineken Cup who did not make the knock-out stages of the premier tournament were instead put into the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup.

The Blues fell into that category, having finished second in their group to eventual 2010 Heineken Cup winners Toulouse.

The Welsh side travelled to Newcastle for their Amlin quarter-final, where they blew away a Falcons side who were more concerned with a fight for Premiership survival.

An impressive semi-final win against Wasps at Adams Park followed, but coach Dai Young's side were big underdogs as they travelled to the south of France to face star-studded Toulon.

"The attitude was excellent - we could have chucked the towel in at some stages," said Young.

"It's another sign of how far we're moving forward as a region.

This is our best achievement as a group. We have really bonded and our performance set us up

Blues' skipper Gethin Jenkins

"I'm really pleased for all the players, they put the work in and they deserve all the plaudits and we're really going to enjoy tonight.

"It's not about me, is it? It's about the players, the board, and everybody's kept faith in each other.

"We've got to enjoy tonight. We're not the finished article, there's still room for improvement and I look forward to next year."

Blues' starting skipper Gethin Jenkins - he departed the fray at the break - said: Blues captain Gethin Jenkins added: "[Wilkinson went off and] that is when we started to get on top.

"In all games in the last 30 minutes we have been taking over teams.

"This is our best achievement as a group. We have really bonded and our performance set us up for today. We said "don't let the occasion get to you".

"We would like to have been in the Heineken Cup final but we have worked hard to get to this stage and it is nice to get a victory."



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see also
Scarlets hail Blues Heineken help
23 May 10 |  Welsh
Cardiff Blues 28-21 Toulon
23 May 10 |  Welsh
Wales' sporting weekend in photos
20 May 10 |  Wales
Cardiff Blues v Toulon as it happened
23 May 10 |  Rugby Union
Wales' record in European finals
23 May 10 |  Welsh
European rugby archive
16 Aug 06 |  Rugby Union
European Challenge Cup 2009/10
21 May 09 |  Rugby Union
Scrum V's Welsh rugby webguide
14 Aug 07 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales


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