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Davies salutes brilliant Blues

Phil Davies paid tribute to his "magnificent" players after they defied Heineken Cup logic and stunned European champions Toulon at the Arms Park.

Six days on from being humiliated in their Pool Two opener by Exeter - the Blues lost 44-29 after conceding five tries before half-time - they toppled Toulon's superstars 19-15.

Substitute Gareth Davies' late try, converted by Leigh Halfpenny, left Toulon floundering after they looked to have done enough through five Jonny Wilkinson penalties.

Halfpenny also completed a penalty hat-trick and Rhys Patchell struck an early long-range effort as the Blues unexpectedly put themselves back in quarter-final contention.

"We have always felt we were going in the right direction, and the players were magnificent today. They fronted up superbly. It was a great win against a very good team," Blues rugby director Davies said.

"We were disappointed with the first half last week, but we showed a lot of resilience in the second period to come back and get a bonus point, and that bonus point looks pretty good today.

"Physically and emotionally, the players went perhaps to another level today. I think that was the youngest back division that Cardiff Blues have ever put on the field.

"We are back in the group, which is the most important thing. We've just got to keep building and building and become more consistent.

"It was great we got the result and it was great to hear the crowd singing. It was like the old days. We will keep moving forward and hopefully we can replicate more days like this one."

Davies' try had its origins in a scintillating break by Blues centre Cory Allen, before Davies skipped past Wilkinson and Maxime Mermoz and grounded possession despite a last-gasp tackle by Toulon scrum-half Frederic Michalak.

Halfpenny added the extras, and there was not enough time left for Toulon to claw their way back, meaning the Blues could celebrate an outstanding victory.

And man of the match, Blues number eight Robin Copeland, paid a glowing tribute to Davies, who had a 50th birthday to savour.

"I am so happy for Phil," Copeland said. "He has got so much passion, he really does give everything to this region. He takes so much stick, but he is working so hard.

"He sat down beside me in the changing room afterwards, and there were tears in his eyes. That is how much it means to him. I have a lot of respect for the man.

"Days like this are why you play the game. I loved every single second of that. It was a feeling of absolute elation when Gareth scored. We wanted it so badly, and we worked so hard for it.

"It is massive for our self-belief and shows what we need to do to win games at this level. It is about having belief in yourself, everyone around you and the systems. Every single player left it all on the pitch today.

"We have beaten the best in Europe today, and that is the attitude we need to have. We need to take all that positive energy, hunger and keep going.

"We knew it was not good enough last week, and that we embarrassed ourselves. You don't need a bigger game to bounce back in than playing the European champions in your own back-yard."


From Belfast Telegraph