Pro12: Treviso 28-34 Cardiff Blues
|Pro12: Treviso v Cardiff Blues|
|Treviso (21) 28|
|Tries: Budd, Sgarbi, Tagicakibau, Steyn Cons: McKinley 4|
|Cardiff Blues (16) 34|
|Tries: R Williams, Cook, Halaholo Cons: Shingler 2 Pens: Shingler 5|
Steve Shingler's 19-point kicking haul was crucial for Cardiff Blues as they came back from a 12-point deficit to win 34-28 in Treviso.
Wales captain Sam Warburton played a key role in defence as the Blues clung on to their lead.
Kiwi centre Willis Halaholo scored a fine try to nudge the visitors ahead in Italy, after Rhun Williams and Macauley Cook both crossed.
Treviso scored four tries inside 45 minutes and claimed two bonus points.
Warburton played the full 80 minutes, mostly taking the number eight role despite wearing six, as he showed his fitness for Wales' second autumn series match against Argentina on 12 November.
He had not played since 1 October because of cheekbone and neck injuries.
It was a nervous night for the visitors, despite RGC product Williams scoring on the overlap just six minutes into his debut for Shingler to convert.
Dean Budd wrestled his way over from close range, Alberto Sgarbi crossed after a searing break by Ian McKinley on 17 minutes, and former Scarlets wing Michael Tagicakibau scored a third on 32 minutes.
Dubliner fly-half McKinley converted all three while Cardiff Blues could only muster three Shingler penalties in reply as they trailed 21-16 at half-time.
That quickly got worse as McKinley's cross-kick to Braam Steyn saw Treviso bag their bonus point just five minutes after the break with the Irishman adding his fourth conversion to put his team 12 points up.
But the visitors refused to panic and Cook crossed after good work by Halaholo and Ellis Jenkins, with Shingler adding a penalty to make it 28-24.
Then new recruit Halaholo, fresh from a Super Rugby triumph with the Hurricanes, showed his class as he side-stepped his way through the defence for a dazzling score to put the visitors ahead on 64 minutes after Shingler's kick.
But the Blues had some nervous moments in the closing stages as Warburton used all his experience to marshal the defence.
Sub Edoardo Gori was close with a kick and chase from a tap penalty, and 19-year-old wing Williams pulled off a crucial tackle to prevent a Treviso overlap.
Shingler's fifth penalty gave the Blues some breathing space and the Italians gave away penalties at vital moments, as the Welsh region ended a run of three league defeats.
Cardiff Blues head coach Danny Wilson told BBC Radio Wales:
"I'm really pleased with the performance. Some of our attacking rugby was outstanding. We said all week it's a big night if you can get a win out here.
"With a number of combinations and without a few internationals I thought we really showed a fighting spirit to go and win the game, but we had some defensive errors that let in some tries and that's something we really need to look at.
"I thought [Sam Warburton's] performance, considering he'd been out for a few weeks, was top-drawer Sam.
"He went out there and really delivered, led the side well when Matthew [Rees] went off, and I'm sure he'll be back in a Welsh shirt very soon."
Treviso: Jayden Hayward, Michael Tagicakibau, Tommaso Benvenuti, Alberto Sgarbi (captain), Angelo Esposito, Ian McKinley, Tito Tebaldi, Nicola Quaglio, Luca Bigi, Simone Ferrari, Filippo Gerosa, Dean Budd, Marco Lazzaroni, Braam Steyn, Marco Barbini.
Replacements: Ornel Gega, Alberto De Marchi, Cherif Traore, Marco Fuser, Francesco Minto, Edoardo Gori, Tommaso Allan, Luke McLean
Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan; Blaine Scully, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Rhun Williams; Steve Shingler, Lloyd Williams; Rhys Gill, Matthew Rees (captain), Scott Andrews, George Earle, Jarrad Hoeata, Sam Warburton, Ellis Jenkins, Macauley Cook
Replacements: Kris Dacey, Brad Thyer, Dillon Lewis, James Down, Seb Davies, Tomos Williams, Jarrod Evans, Dan Fish
Referee: Ian Davies (WRU)
Assistant Referees: Dewi Phillips (WRU), Andrea Piardi (FIR)
Citing Commissioner: Maurizio Vancini (FIR)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (IRFU)