Jenkins ends England's hope of European glory

London Wasps 15 Cardiff Blues 18: Prop scores try that puts Welsh region into Challenge Cup final against Toulon

The colour in Phil Vickery's cheeks matched the cerise of Cardiff Blues' shirts long before this Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final was over, but for all the yeoman Wasps prop's great work in the scrummage, there were too many gaps elsewhere. The Blues reached their first European final and they will relish meeting the French moneybags Toulon – Jonny Wilkinson et al – in a rampantly partisan Marseilles three weeks today. "If we can get our best team on the field we're more than a match for anybody," said Dai Young, the Blues' director of rugby.

Young's team scored two tries to nil and could have had a couple more; Wasps, for all many hard yards gained by Vickery and co in the scrum, were second-best at the breakdown and lacking the dog which had seen them through three European semi-finals and to victories in this competition in 2003 and the Heineken in 2004 and 2007. It was their last home match of the season and three departing players did a rain-lashed lap of honour; Danny Cipriani donated his boots to two young fans. The Blues' full-back and kicker, Ben Blair, might have considered giving his up after three misses in the first half hour but he was on target thereafter.

So this season's new format of three teams dropping into the Challenge Cup from the Heineken has worked out for the Blues, who were knocked out of Toulouse's pool in the premier competition. A year ago Martyn Williams was undone in a place-kick shoot-out in the Heineken semi- finals; yesterday he joined with the outstanding Xavier Rush and Ma'ama Molitika to force Wasps back and ease the task of a third-choice scrum-half, Darren Allinson.

Few in Europe are more effective than Rush around the fringes and the No 8 did the trick from a scrum in the 22 to the left of the Wasps posts in the 28th minute. He tapped a free-kick, bounced off the Wasps scrum-half, Joe Simpson, and set up a ruck. Moving left to right, Ceri Sweeney and the hooker Rhys Thomas fed Leigh Halfpenny, who made tidy work of stepping inside Mark van Gisbergen for a try and a 5-3 lead after Dave Walder's penalty for Wasps. The conversion was missed by Blair.

Walder, preferred as the starting fly-half to Cipriani, stuck penalties after 31 and 34 minutes. The French referee, Romain Poite, presided over a black-jerseyed embarrassment in the scrum at Leicester in January, but this was different with Vickery having returned for his first start since October, following a neck operation. As he and his side forced a Blues front row containing another Lion, Gethin Jenkins, backwards and upwards there must have been approving nods from the watching England scrum coach, Graham Rowntree. Though Blair chipped over his first successful kick for a ruck penalty, Wasps led 9-8 at the break and moved further ahead when Jenkins took the first scrum of the second half down. Vickery grinned, Walder kicked: 12-8.

That was as good as it got for Wasps. Blair found his range from 45 metres: 12-11 to the Blues. And nothing Simon Shaw did found favour with Monsieur Poite, culminating in a yellow card for the 36-year-old lock for joining a ruck from the side in the 55th minute. Halfpenny's 60-metre kick fell short but Shaw's punishment arrived soon enough. Driving hard, the Blues worked Jenkins over at the posts and Blair converted for an 18-12 lead.

Wasps lost their captain, Tom Rees – off, worryingly, to have ice applied to his troublesome knee – and though Walder landed a fourth penalty after 62 minutes, the territorial and possession statistics were a strong shade of Cardiff cerise. Cipriani had done some sparkling things at Worcester and Twickenham on the previous two weekends but also gifted the opposition a try in each. He was given 10 minutes at full-back to effect a turnaround. But the Blues were not keen on giving him or any other Wasp the ball.

It took a yellow card to the replacement prop, Scott Andrews, at yet another backpedalling scrum to give Wasps a late boost. Walder's difficult kick to level the scores from the 10m line, with the rain beating down, faded right to left across the posts. Wasps must now concentrate on their slim chance of reaching the Premiership play-offs; the Blues are marginally better placed in the Magners League – but they will always have Marseilles.

London Wasps: M van Gisbergen (D Cipriani, 70); P Sackey, B Jacobs, D Waldouck, D Lemi (T Varndell, 73); D Walder, J Simpson; T Payne (Z Taulafo, 48), R Webber (T Lindsay, 35-40), P Vickery, S Shaw, G Skivington, J Worsley, D Ward-Smith, T Rees (capt; S Betsen, 59).

Cardiff Blues: B Blair; L Halfpenny, C Laulala, J Roberts, C Czekaj; C Sweeney, D Allinson; G Jenkins, TR Thomas (G Williams, 77), T Filise (S Andrews, 54), D Jones, P Tito (capt; B Davies, 54), M Molitika (J Yapp, 73), X Rush, M Williams.

Referee: R Poite (France).

Suggested Topics
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little