Davies diplomatic over Armitage clash

PA Sport
Gavin Evans, pictured, was at the receiving end of a 'robust challenge' from Delon Armitage
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Gavin Evans, pictured, was at the receiving end of a 'robust challenge' from Delon Armitage

Cardiff Blues director of rugby Phil Davies refused to criticise referee George Clancy for not dishing out a card to Toulon full-back Delon Armitage for his high challenge on Gavin Evans during the French side's 22-14 Heineken Cup win in south Wales.

The incident occurred during the first half of the Pool Six clash as the England international led with his shoulder and caught the Cardiff centre on the head. Evans was stretchered off and sent to hospital for checks.

And Davies said: "There is more for me to take out of the game than talk about that incident. George Clancy is an experienced referee and we have to respect his decision."

While Evans did stumble as he reached Armitage, who has had his fair share of disciplinary issues over the last two seasons, the former London Irish man made no effort to wrap his arms around his opponent to complete a legal tackle. But Clancy only awarded a penalty and took no further action.

Davies added: "It was a very robust challenge, Gavin had a bit of a knock and he is okay fortunately. It was a tough challenge. You can argue it was yellow, red, whatever you want to do, but he made the decision and you get on with it, that was not the reason we lost the game."

Cardiff have had a difficult start to the season, and this was their fourth defeat in five games back at their traditional home. Leigh Halfpenny's early try put the Blues in front and the Wales full-back added three penalties, although he was off-target with three other shots at goal.

But Toulon's power and the strength of their bench ultimately helped them grind out the win as Jonny Wilkinson kicked 17 points and man-of-the-match Steffon Armitage scored their only try.

The loss effectively ends the Blues' last-eight aspirations, but Davies said: "I feel a lot of pride and a lot of frustration. For 80 minutes we stuck in there and performed superbly well and gave ourselves a platform to potentially win the game. But for a bit of inaccuracy and a bit more field position we could have beaten one of the strongest squad in Europe."

Cardiff's travails will be of little concern to star-studded Toulon, whose squad boasts 833 international caps between them, as they look to make a major impact in the Heineken Cup for the first time and they are ideally placed with two wins from two.

"We are disappointed with how we played, but glad to come here and get a win, two out of two in Europe puts us in a good position leading into the Sale games in December," said Toulon prop Gethin Jenkins.

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