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Match Report: Gloucester Rugby 46 Cardiff Blues 26

Gloucester Rugby are through to the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-finals after a superb second-half display saw them get the better of Cardiff Blues at Kingsholm.

Three tries in just over ten minutes in the second half spun the contest as Jonny May, Tom Marshall, Mark Atkinson and Henry Purdy all crossed in the 46-26 triumph.

That was despite Blues leading at the break through an Alex Cuthbert double, while five kicks from Steve Shingler and a Gareth Anscombe drop-goal had orchestrated a 23-20 lead.

Marshall had already scored by then, with Ross Moriarty and the unflappable boot of Billy Twelvetrees making the difference at Kingsholm, with Gloucester joining Bath Rugby in the Challenge Cup last-four.

Both teams in confident mood at Kingsholm, but the visitors were the first to get the scoreboard ticking as Cuthbert crossed after just five minutes.

That was largely due to some impressive work from the forwards, seeing the Blues play through the phases before the wing took over, darting through a couple of defenders to touch down.

Moriarty ensured Gloucester’s deficit was not to be too long though, swooping on a ball that came loose from the ruck to make a beeline for the tryline, just about dotting down despite pressure from the visiting defence.

Both tries were converted as Billy Burns and Steve Shingler shared an excellent night from the tee, but the try-scoring wasn’t done there either as the hosts took the lead through Marshall.

While the full-back’s name went down on the scoresheet, it wasn’t without the brilliant work of Twelvetrees.

His step and break was the orchestration of the move, finding Marshall who had just enough room to hunt down the tryline to put his side 20-13 up with 13 minutes remaining of a topsy-turvy first half.

As the game had suggested, the impetus changed once again before the half was out.

An impressive run from Shingler saw him create a fraction of room, which proved just enough for Cuthbert to run in his second try of the evening, the game once again level up heading into the break.

But just as it seemed as though the two would be locked level, Cardiff entered the interval three points ahead.

Some strong pressure in the Gloucester line looked like it may be rewarded with a score, but Gareth Anscombe held himself in the pocket to kick a drop-goal, with a 23-20 scoreline befitting an excellent half of rugby.

Ten minutes into the second half and Shingler kicked another penalty, but with just six points – less than one converted score – in the match, Gloucester were certainly not out of it.

And that proved exactly the case when May dotted down, collecting a cross-kick from Twelvetrees to burrow down into the corner, while the latter kicked the extras for a one-point lead.

That lead was quickly extended to eight for the Cherry & Whites with another superb score, with Willi Heinz this time the instigator for Marshall to grab his second of the evening.

At 34-26 Gloucester were well in control, but any thoughts of them taking their foot off the gas were quickly quashed as Mark Atkinson scored their third try in just 11 second-half minutes.

Putting on a little bit of class, Atkinson delivered a beautiful show and go to break the tackle and crash over the whitewash, scoring his side’s fifth try of the evening in the process.

But the hosts weren’t done there, with Henry Purdy adding gloss to proceedings with a late score, an emphatic way to go into the European Rugby Challenge Cup last four where they now face a trip to La Rochelle.

Tickets to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final 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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