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Match Reaction: Gloucester Rugby 46 Cardiff Blues 26

Director of rugby David Humphreys insisted it was all about the result for Gloucester Rugby as they battled to the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-finals with victory over the Cardiff Blues.

Ross Moriarty and Tom Marshall had crossed for the hosts at Kingsholm, though they found themselves trailing 23-20 at the break after an absorbing 40 minutes.

But the Cherry & Whites turned on the style in the second half, with Jonny May, the returning Mark Atkinson and Henry Purdy all getting on the scoresheet while Marshall added his second.

“Cup rugby is all about the result. I thought large parts of the performance was very good, especially on the back of Cardiff’s performance last week,” said Humphreys.

That now gives Humphreys’ side a trip to French outfit La Rochelle in the last-four, impressed with the way his side adjusted after Billy Burns had to leave the field for an HIA early in the first half.

“In the first half we kicked a little bit loosely, Matthew Morgan posed us a couple of problems but we got to half-time and took control in the second half.

“You’re always trying to find solutions to the problems, but our decision-making on the pitch really managed that in the second half and we took the opportunities that we created which was the big difference this week.

“I thought Billy (Twelvetrees) was outstanding. With the change in our gameplan in the last few weeks and stepping in to play 10 having played 12 over the season was a big ask, but I thought he implemented what we wanted to do very well.

“He followed the gameplan, and in the same breath a big credit to Mark Atkinson. He’s been out for a few months but came back and played longer than expected and between the two of them were influential throughout the game.”

Twelvetrees kicked 12 points for Gloucester, but he also looked destructive with ball in hand, playing a major part in three tries for the hosts.

But it looked like the game may have been heading Cardiff’s way come half-time, with Alex Cuthbert on hand for a try double in the first half, while a late Gareth Anscombe drop goal saw the Blues edge three points ahead.

But, with Twelvetrees and Gloucester ticking, a solitary Steve Shingler penalty was to be the visitors’ only haul of the half, with the makeshift fly-half pleased with the way his side responded in the second half.

“In cup rugby at Kingsholm, it’s important to get the win,” said Twelvetrees. “At half-time we were a little frustrated with the way things were going and our discipline wasn’t that good, but we knew that if we could control that we would force ourselves on the game.

“We did that in the second half, our defence was good and we frustrated them and became quite clinical in attack when we needed to be.

“We’re always having conversations and having words with each other so that if one of us goes down it’s quite easy to adjust. We have a simple gameplan and we were able to slot in together thanks to brilliant communication.

“It makes my life a lot easier, and the forwards really stepped up in second half physicality which gave us a really good platform to attack from.”

Gloucester Rugby: Marshall; Sharples (Purdy 77), Trinder, Twelvetrees, May; Burns (Atkinson 20), Heinz (capt, Braley 77); McAllister (Thomas 75), Hibbard (Matu’u 75), Hohneck (Rowan 44, Ludlow 77), Savage (Galarza 44), Thrush, Moriarty, Morgan, Rowan (Afoa 38).

Cardiff Blues: Morgan (Halahalo 58); Cuthbert, Lee-Lo, Shingler, Scully (Summerhill 78); Anscombe, L Williams (T Williams 56); Jenkins (capt, Domachowski 63), Dacey (Rees 63), Filise (Assiratti 58), Earle, Hoeata (Cook 71), Warburton, N Williams (Bennett 73), Navidi.

Gloucester Rugby 46
Tries: Moriarty, Marshall (2), May, Atkinson, Purdy
Cons: Burns, Twelvetrees (4)
Pens: Burns, Twelvetrees

Cardiff Blues 26
Tries: Cuthbert (2)
Cons: Shingler (2)
Pens: Shingler (3)
Drop-Goal: G Anscombe

Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Attendance: 11,206

Tickets to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final is on 27 May at Twickenham are now on sale. If you want to have an unforgettable day out at club rugby’s best Cup Final then click here for tickets.

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