Gethin Jenkins ends career as Cardiff Blues crush Zebre 37-0 in Pro14

By Dafydd JonesBBC Sport Wales at the Arms Park
Gethin Jenkins: Retiring Wales record cap holder has mixed feelings at 'end of era'
Guinness Pro14:
Cardiff Blues (11) 37
Tries: T Williams, Myhill, N Williams, Lee-Lo 2 Cons: Shingler 3 Pens: Shingler 2
Zebre (0) 0

Wales record cap holder Gethin Jenkins played his final game before retiring as his Cardiff Blues side claimed a bonus-point Pro14 win over Zebre.

The prop, 37, received rapturous applause from the Arms Park crowd as he took to the field for the last time as a 58th-minute replacement.

Tries from Tom Williams, Kirby Myhill, Nick Williams and a Ray Lee-Lo brace saw Blues up to fourth in Conference A.

It gave Jenkins a winning send-off after 13 seasons at Cardiff.

During that time the loose-head has made 195 appearances for the Blues, as well as playing 129 times for Wales, winning four Six Nations titles - including three Grand Slams - and also made five Test appearances for the British and Irish Lions.

He had been battling with what the Blues call a "chronic" problem with his right knee for some time and will now take up a coaching role with the Blues' academy.

Jenkins revealed on Wednesday that Sunday's match against Zebre would be his last with supporters given a final chance to pay tribute to one of Wales' all-time greats.

Gethin Jenkins attempted the final conversion but the retiring Blues prop was just wide
Gethin Jenkins attempted the final conversion but the retiring Blues prop was just wide

He won two European Challenge Cup titles with the Blues and, in his one season away from Cardiff Arms Park, he lifted the Heineken Champions Cup with Toulon.

Jenkins' cameo appearance provided cheer for the 6,426 in attendance on what was an otherwise low-key afternoon.

In damp conditions Steven Shingler put the Blues ahead early on with a long-range penalty, before creating the game's opening try on 17 minutes.

The fly-half put in a perfectly weighted grubber kick for full-back Tom Williams to race on to and dive over out wide, for his first Blues try since rejoining the region in the summer.

Shingler missed with a difficult conversion attempt but did extend the hosts lead 10 minutes later with another penalty from distance, putting the Blues 11-0 ahead at half-time.

The hosts improved after the break and were rewarded after Shingler turned down a straight-forward shot at goal to put a penalty into the corner.

Flanker Josh Turnbull won clean line-out ball before the Blues pack heaved hooker Myhill over the line for their second try after 47 minutes, with Shingler adding the conversion.

Blues coach John Mulvihill says Gethin Jenkins enjoyed his final game before retirement

The moment of the match came 10 minutes later, with Jenkins given a standing ovation as he came on for his final game.

With his introduction, the Blues increased the tempo greatly with the loose-head's every touch cheered.

And the veteran had a hand in the third try by aiding the shove as the forwards forced powerful number eight Nick Williams over from a five-metre scrum, before Shingler kicked the extras with 15 minutes remaining.

The fourth try to secure the bonus point quickly followed, with replacement scrum-half Lewis Jones popping a pass to Lee-Lo on the crash, who had an unopposed run to the line giving Shingler a simple conversion again.

Lee-Lo was again the benefactor in the final minute after the hosts went through the phases and finished off a sweeping move.

Jenkins was persuaded to attempt the final conversion and although the prop put it wide, he still signed off with a comfortable Blues win.

Cardiff Blues: T Williams; A Summerhill, G Smith, R Lee-Lo, J Harries; S Shingler, L Williams (capt); B Thyer, K Myhill, S Andrews, G Earle, S Davies, J Turnbull, O Robinson, N Williams.

Replacements: : K Dacey, G Jenkins, K Assiratti, J Down, S Manoa, L Jones, D Fish, H Millard.

Zebre: G D'Onofrio; G Di Giulio, T Boni, N De Battista, P Balekana; F Brummer, R Raffaele; C Ah-Nau, L Luus, E Bello, D Sisi (capt), L Krumov, J Bianchi, A Tauyavuca, A Koffi.

Replacements: M Manfredi, D Rimpelli, R Tenga, S Ortis, D Ruggeri, M Azzolini, J Elliott, G Venditti.

Referee: George Clancy (IRFU)

Assistant referees: Stuart Gaffikin (IRFU, Mike English (WRU)

TMO: Brian MacNeice (IRFU)

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