Gethin Jenkins praises Cardiff Blues 'courage' in semi-final win

Blues' Jarrod Evans and Lloyd Williams celebrate beating Pau
Blues' Jarrod Evans and Lloyd Williams celebrate beating Pau

Gethin Jenkins has praised Cardiff Blues' courage for holding out against Pau's powerful pack to reach the European Challenge Cup final.

They will face Gloucester in Bilbao on Friday, 11 May, bidding for their second win in the tournament.

"We didn't perform to the level we wanted to - but it shows the courage we've got to stick in games," said the 37-year-old prop.

"We probably shut up shop a bit early, but we put the hard work in."

Blues' 16-10 win at the Arms Park means head coach Danny Wilson will head to a new role at Wasps in 2018-19 having steered his side into a European final.

Jenkins says beating the French Top 14 team "shows how far" Blues have come this term.

The Wales and British and Irish Lions tight-head added: "We knew they were always going to be bigger than us physically.

"Their tight-head prop [Malik Hamadache] was probably the biggest guy I have ever played against - and we did struggle in the scrum area.

"We are glad we came away with the victory, it could have been a different result, but we managed to stick in it.

"They were a big physical team with dangerous individuals everywhere, and we really had to step up to the mark to beat them.

'Holding nothing back'

Gethin Jenkins
Jenkins is the most-capped player for Wales and the fourth most-capped player in rugby union history.

Jenkins played in Blues' last Challenge Cup final, a 2010 win over Toulon and he believes they can compete with Gloucester.

"I am sure we can make a good fist of it. We will look forward to Cardiff Blues being in another European final.

"The last three years we have been building towards this.

"We've got guys who hold nothing back. They have got the skill and confidence to try things."

Full-back Gareth Anscombe scored an early try and fly-half Jarrod Evans added three penalties and a conversion.

Centre Conrad Smith, the ex-New Zealand World Cup winner, went over for Pau and stand-off fly-half Tom Taylor added a conversion and penalty.

But Blues ensured their first defeat in this season's tournament.

Pau paid price

Simon Mannix
Former fly-half Simon Mannix made one appearance for New Zealand in 1994 against France

Pau head coach Simon Mannix, another ex-All Black, said: "I am disappointed because my guys put a lot in there.

"We just weren't as effective as we had to be in the areas that are key to Cardiff's game.

"We didn't react quickly enough to the interpretation from the referee, and we paid for that dearly.

"We couldn't build pressure, because inevitably it ended up in a penalty at the breakdown.

"We are better than that. We were capable of coming here and winning.

"That's not being arrogant. We showed when we won at Gloucester with a bonus point [in the pool stage] what we can do away from home."

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