Cardiff Blues 43 Calvisano 16: Lomu searches for pace as Blues cruise past Italians

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The Independent Online

At his peak a decade ago Jonah Lomu was described as poetry in motion, but he was always more Rambo than Rimbaud. Maybe a planned session with Olympic sprint champion, Linford Christie, will help. Yet his home debut did put nearly 8,000 extra Welsh bums on seats, which more than covered his £3,000 match fee. For a while, in expectation of the old Jonah resurfacing, the crowds will flock to see him.

On Saturday he was a lumbering shadow of his former self. The pace is not there. That he drew a lot of Italian attention did open up space for the rest of the Blues' backs to exploit, but there is a long way to go before he is back to his best.

At least Lomu is still a force to be reckoned with in the contact areas. Twice he hit opponents with a shuddering force that knocked them back more than five metres, and he could only be brought down by a mob of Italians. When that happened he made the ball available for his support.

Lomu's contribution was overshadowed somewhat by accusations of gouging. David Young, the Blues' head coach, was angry and disappointed. "There were a lot of cheap shots, a lot of gouging," said the former Wales prop. "It was going on last week as well, so we did expect it."

The Italians can expect a citing, providing there is video evidence. "We can only take it up with the citing commissioner if we have a clear shot of it on video," said Young. "A lot of things like that are done in the depths of the rucks and mauls and it is very difficult to pin down who is doing what. You only have to look at three or four of our players and see the gouge marks round their eyes. That was what was behind a lot of the flare-ups."

At least Cardiff were still able to assert their superiority over a feisty Calvisano. And outscoring the Italians by six tries to two was emphatic. Two of those tries were scored by a former All Black, though not Lomu.

Xavier Rush looks to be a truly magnificent acquisition. The Blues' No 8 could do no wrong. He took the ball up, broke the gain line, scavenged ferociously on the ground for the ball and put in some crucial tackles when called upon to do so.

He also pointed a finger at the Italians dirty tricks, saying: "I was gouged in last week's match against Calvisano. A lot happens when you are on the ground when your back is turned. It's hard not to react at times; you just have to keep your discipline."

Which he and his team-mates managed for much of the time, although Martyn Williams ended up in the sin bin late in the game.

Cardiff Blues: Tries Rush 2, R Williams 2, Quinnell, Sowden-Taylor; Conversions N Robinson 4, Thomas; Penalty N Robinson. Calvisano: Tries Van Schalkwyk, Zaffiri; Penalties Kruger 2.

Cardiff Blues: R Williams (capt); C Morgan, J Robinson (T Davies, 65-69), M Stcherbina (Davies, 69), J Lomu; N Robinson (L Thomas, 72), M Phillips (R Powell, 72); G Jenkins, R Thomas (D Goodfield, 20-27), M Jones (B Evans, 54), D Jones (C Quinnell, 57), R Sidoli, A Powell (R Sowden-Taylor, 77), M Williams, X Rush.

Calvisano: J van Schalkwyk; A Vodo, M Murgier, M Pratichetti, L Nitoglia (M Ravazzolo, 28); H Kruger, P Griffen (M Cagnoni, 43-53); S Perugini (G Bocca, 78), G Intoppa (L Ghiraldini, 65), M Castrogiovanni (L Cittadini, 77), R Mandelli, J Purll, W Brosnihan, M Zaffiri (capt; M Cagnoni, 80), A Zanni (80).

Referee: C Berdos (France).

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