Curtis Rona’s last-gasp try stole 14-man London Irish a dramatic 41-35 European Challenge Cup victory over Cardiff Blues. Jarrod Evans’ drop-goal put the Blues back into a 35-34 lead with time ticking away, but Irish broke the length of the field with centre Rona finishing in style.
Declan Kidney’s side were forced to play the majority of the second half with 14 men after prop Will Goodrick-Clarke was sent off, but Irish pulled a victory out of the bag to book a quarter-final trip to the Recreation Ground to face Bath. Irish beat Bath 36-33 only last weekend in a feisty Gallagher Premiership battle that featured two red cards and also led to a citing which all resulted in bans for a trio of Bath players.
Kristian Dacey, Josh Adams, Jason Harries and Lloyd Williams all crossed for Cardiff, with fly-half Evans slotting three conversions and two penalties to add to his late drop-goal. But Ollie Hassell-Collins bagged a brace for Irish, who also had Ben Loader and Terrence Hepetema on the score sheet. Former Ireland fly-half Paddy Jackson’s five conversions and two penalties also proved pivotal for the hosts.
Bath had earlier set up that last-eight Challenge Cup battle with Irish by fighting back to beat Zebre in Italy. Beno Obano, Anthony Watson and Jacques du Toit plundered tries to drag Stuart Hooper’s team back from the brink with a 35-27 win over the Italians who struggled in the recently finished Guinness PRO14 season.
Pierre Bruno bagged a hat-trick for Zebre, but the hosts were ultimately unable to hold off the Bath comeback. Joe Cokanasiga and Will Stuart also crossed for five-try Bath, who now move into the last eight. Paolo Pesetto posted two penalties to tee up a tense finale in Parma, but Bath ground home with du Toit’s try proving crucial.
Incendiary statement issued by the French club who refused to delay the game until Sunday because of what it would have meant for their front row #LEIvRCT #HeinekenChampionsCup
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 2, 2021
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