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Parks helps Cardiff pass Treviso test

jmcconnell 24 Sep 2010

Benetton Treviso and the Cardiff Blues scored a try apiece but Dan Parks’ kicking contribution proved crucial as the Welsh region continued on the winning trail at Stadio di Monigo.

Benetton Treviso's seven-match winning streak at home was ended by the buoyant Blues, who struck for their only try shortly before the break.

Full-back Ben Blair got the touchdown, profiting from a speedy break from young scrum half Lloyd Williams. Dan Parks added the extras for a 13-0 half-time lead.

Treviso coach Franco Smith made five changes for the start of the second half, including an entirely new front row. The Italians gained some impetus up front and following a drive from a close range lineout, team captain Antonio Pavanello scored a converted try.

Pumped up by their partisan crowd, Treviso threatened the Cardiff try-line again, but the visitors relieved the pressure and Parks kicked another penalty and drop goal to seal his side's third league win.

Afterwards Cardiff supremo David Young spoke of his pride in the players, who had to show 'a lot of guts and determination' to collect the four points against a tought Treviso outfit.

Young made six personnel changes to the team that started against the Newport Gwent Dragons last weekend. Dafydd Hewitt, Tom James and Parks came into the back-line, taking over from Casey Laulala, Chris Czekaj and Ceri Sweeney.

Up front, Fa'ao Filise returned to the front row, Deiniol Jones replaced the rested Bradley Davies in the second row and Michael Paterson started in the back row, with Ma'ama Molitika moving to number 8 to cover for the injured Xavier Rush who has a minor knee injury.

The Treviso management also opted for changes, tweaking the side that overcame Leinster on a 29-13 scoreline.

Hooker Franco Sbaraglini and flanker Marco Filippucci were drafted in to make their Magners League debuts, while props Pedro Di Santo and Augusto Allori and skipper Antonio Pavanello were back in the starting line-up.

This was the first ever clash between Treviso and Cardiff and the visitors, having targeted a strong start, nearly got off to a flyer.

Martyn Williams and Tom Shanklin were held up short of the try-line before fly-half Parks booted the Blues into a third minute lead.

Treviso looked to threaten out wide, as did Cardiff, and although scoring chances were few and far between, the Welsh region managed to double their lead by the midpoint of the half.

Winger Leigh Halfpenny failed to convert a long range penalty and while Parks hit the post with his second penalty attempt, the Scotland international dropped a goal after the Blues had snaffled back possession.

Five minutes before half-time, Cardiff struck for the game's opening try. Treviso were caught napping when Lloyd Williams dummied from a ruck and sped into the hosts' 22, proving a handful for full-back Brendan Williams.

The Cardiff scrum half went close to crossing the whitewash but mustered a scrappy offload which the supporting Blair gathered to dive over for a try which Parks converted.

With five pairs of fresh legs on from the restart, Treviso were determined to hit back quickly. Their South African scrum half Tobie Botes missed a penalty opportunity, but the gap was down to six points by the hour mark.

Treviso's beefy forwards, in particular, were beginning to ask questions of the Cardiff defence and from a five-metre lineout, a powerful shunt saw Pavanello stretch for the line at the second half. Television match official Stefano Marrama confirmed the grounding, and Botes added the extras for a 13-7 scoreline.

The Blues had to survive a second wave of pressure as the Italian side turned to one of their strengths – the scrum. They had a set of scrums close to the Cardiff whitewash that could and perhaps should have provided the platform for their second try.

It did not come as tough-tackling Cardiff, courtesy of a vital turnover, pushed them back downfield. Parks rewarded his forwards for their hard work by popping over a penalty from distance.

There was also the welcome sight of Gareth Cooper returning to competitive action for the region. The experienced scrum half, recoverd from a double groin operation, was introduced for his first appearance since last March.

Treviso were still very much in the hunt as the minutes ticked by, but man-of-the-match Parks closed out the game with his second drop goal of the night.