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Cardiff Blues travel to Pau on Saturday with a place in the European Rugby Challenge Cup’s quarter-finals firmly on their minds.
The Blues and English rivals Bath are level at the top of Pool 4 with two rounds of fixtures still to go.
Danny Wilson’s men make the trip to France on the back of a disappointing Pro12 defeat away to Glasgow last time out where they made too many errors to have a chance of victory.
But with the side from the Welsh capital still in with a chance of finishing as group winners or as one of the tournament’s best runners-up, there’s still all to play for.
Head coach Wilson said: “We sit joint top of the pool and we now have the opportunity, if we win two games, to have a quarter-final and go for some silverware.
“That's a competition we're very much in. We're still seventh in the league, but we have to climb to put pressure on the group above us. Europe is a big opportunity.”
The Blues face Pau and then Bristol in their final encounter with Wilson expected to name a strong side in a bid to reach the latter stages.
Ellis Jenkins, who has spent much of his recent game time on the bench, is confident the Blues can do just that.
“If we win both games I think we will qualify for the quarter finals, whether that is as winners or best runners-up,” the flanker said.
“That will also depend on how the other groups go as well but if we do qualify, we want to put ourselves in the best position for a home draw by topping the group.
“All we can do is focus on ourselves. What happens with Bath and the other groups is out of our hands so we'll be going to Pau to win the game and re-evaluate where we are after that game.”
Pau have lost all four of their European games so far this season and promising back-rower Jenkins is dreaming of a return to the Blues’ glory days in Europe.
“If you can get yourself into knock-out rugby, it's exciting. You look at the biggest occasion at Cardiff Blues over the past few years and it's when they beat Toulon in the final,” he said, looking back on the region’s Challenge Cup win in 2010.
“If you can reach those stages of the competition, it's where you create those types of memories. Too often, since when I've started with Cardiff Blues, our season has finished after the first week of May. Being in a final would be a different scenario for us and certainly something we would relish.”
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Steven Shingler snatched a vital 22-21 victory at Pau with a faultless kicking display to keep Cardiff Blues on course for the European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-finals.
The outside-half kicked the last of his five penalties right at the death to snatch victory after an error strewn first-half. Converted tries from Louis Dupichot, Julien Tomas and Pierre Dupouy looked to have earned Pau their first victory in this season’s competition.
But Willis Halaholo kept the Blues in it with a jinking second-half score, before Shingler stepped up to win it. Danny Wilson’s men know a win at home to Bristol in the final round will guarantee their place in the last-eight.
Shingler ensured their French mission started with points, as he landed a penalty to give the Welsh region a 3-0 lead after two minutes.
But Pau soon stamped their mark on the match. Irish back-row Paddy Butler sliced through the defensive line on a devastating angle before the ball was recycled to right wing Dupichot, who raced over at the corner.
A second Shingler penalty cut the gap to a single point, but Pau scrum-half Tomas burrowed over from close range for a second converted try to give the Blues an eight point gap to overturn at half-time.
Shingler maintained his 100 percent record to pull his men back to within a converted try of the lead four minutes into the second-half. And the turnaround was complete 10 minutes into the second-period when Halaholo spotted an overlap and switched to the short-side.
He received the ball from Tomos Williams and jinked his way past the defence to score, with Shingler converting for a 16-14 lead. He added his fourth penalty moments later, but outside-centre Dupouy to strolled over after a spell of heavy pressure, and Fajardo converted to edge the home side 21-19 ahead.
But Shingler kicked a fifth penalty to steal an unlikely victory at the death to keep their last-eight hopes alive.
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