‘Incredible’ finisher’s place down in Wales Six Nations squad amid mixed fortunes for teammates

There were many telltale stats to come out of Cardiff’s epic European encounter with Harlequin at Arms Park.

Ten attempts, three yellow cards, 32 defenders defeated in all and 20 penalties were conceded by the home side.

But perhaps the one that attracted the most attention was the 108 meters from the five carry.

It was the remarkable tally posted by home winger Owen Lane, the night of the Champions Cup to remember.

In addition to all the ground he made, he touched twice, providing two excellent finishes, paving the way for another score and conceding a try-saving.

It was some all-round performance from the 24-year-old, who should now be named on Tuesday for a place in the Six Nations squad Wales coach Wayne Pivac.

He has really hit the ground running since returning to action after some ten weeks without a game due to the Covid-related lay-off, which affected the bulk of the Cardiff squad.

His opportunistic effort was a bright spot during last weekend’s loss to Edinburgh as he showed good football skills and good restraint, hacking thrice and in control to swoop for the score.

Then, against the English champion Harlequin, I’m in another level again.

His first attempt in 13 minutes showed the man’s strength.

Rhiwbina still had a lot to do with the product as he got the ball to the right, but he did it with force.

He cut Luke Northmore inside to avoid a cover-center and then threw the opposite numbered Cayden Fife onto the deck before bursting onto the line.

It featured former Wales center Tom Shanklin singing his praises on commentary for BT Sport.

“A quality finish from a quality player,” he said.

“He’s in heavy traffic. It needed some finishing, but you had the right guy to do it on the ball.

“He steps in and then fires off that force with a one-handed shotgun.

“He’s putting in a lot of effort at the moment and is really hungry for it.”

Co-commenter Ugo Moni added his thoughts: “It’s a lovely ending.”

Former England and Lions wing Mooney was even more upbeat in Lane’s second attempt at 55 minutes.

It was a real hunter’s effort as he chased down Hallam Amos’ kick and then pounced when Quince’s full-back Tyrone Greene failed to collect the ball on deck.

Showing what Shanklin called “great agility”, Lane pulled the ball out of the air and managed to bring it down the corner with one hand before making contact.

“It’s an incredible ending,” announced Mooney.

“How acrobatic is that?

“What a try.”

The lane was not done yet though.

A few minutes later, he made a killer move to defeat the unfortunate Green from the outside and set the stage for Corey Domachowski to power.

Also, he had a stellar job in the defense in the first half, when he forced Fife to put in contact just off the line after Joe Merchant’s break.

So, overall, a top drawer display.

Giving his verdict, the Cardiff Director of Rugby Dai Young said: “I thought whenever he had the ball he looked dangerous and he squandered some opportunities.”

Lane won his fifth cap when he made his debut against New Zealand in October and is now working hard for selection in the Six Nations opener against Ireland.

He delivers power, speed, the kind of sprinting angles you’d expect from a former center and he’s a real hunter who knows how to smell a try.

The lane train may well be on the platform leaving for Dublin.

How other Wales contenders fared for Cardiff in their 36-33 loss

apple davis

It’s been a productive week for the 25-year-old.

On Wednesday, it was announced that he has signed a new long-term contract with Cardiff.

Then, a few days later, he showed how much of an asset he is to the club and how playing for Wales in the Six Nations could be a big part of him.

Davies had a good autumn, making it to all four Tests, showing his versatility by coming on as a replacement blindside flanker in the first three and then opening the win over Australia at Locke.

He was at his favorite boilerhouse berth against Harlequin and, once again, demonstrated what kind of skill-set he offered that other lines could only dream of.

In his junior rugby days, he was a centerpiece with Pentirche RFC and it shows, as he is very comfortable with the ball in his mitts.

Perhaps the best example of this was the one-handed basketball pass during Corey Domachowski’s attempted build while also doing some classy offloads.

He’s pretty easy to boot as well, with a hoof gets Quinn in all sorts of trouble while he’s got a great spring in the lineout.

Little has been known about Davis’s skill and athleticism. His physicality has been questioned.

Well, he’s really worked on that side of his game over the years and it’s showing.

Against Quins, he made ten carries – the second highest for his team – and made eight tackles, using his 18th 8lbs frame to good effect.

With Jake Ball and Corey Hill now in overseas territories and Alun Wynne Jones sidelined, there is a real opportunity on the lock and Davis will have to be firmly in the mix for the starting spot alongside Adam Beard and Will Rowlands.

Thomas Williams

It was a fascinating scrum-half duel between Williams and England veteran Danny Care.

The Harlequin man got one with his try, blocking his opposite count as he forced his way out of a lineout.

But, overall, Williams showed why he should be the frontrunner for the Wales No. 9 jersey against Ireland.

He is just such a catalyst. He gets things done, he sets the high tempo which is key to Cardiff’s game plan and he is very quick in both his serve and his darting snipes, while his tactical kicking game has also come through well.

Behind his quality off the bench against Edinburgh, it was further evidence that he is the man for the job at the scrum-half.

Rice Priestland

Sports management is usually a real quality of this veteran fly-half, who turns 35 last week.

We saw this with the cameo he produced as a deputy for Wales in the autumn, especially the way he saw them home to a win against Australia.

But brought in for Cardiff to do the same thing against Quins, it didn’t exactly happen during their brief outing.

He opted not to pocket the match-winning drop goal in the final game, instead swung the ball in the right direction, and eventually lost the ball.

Then when he fielded the resulting clearing kick in his 22nd, he opted out of defense instead of bowling a boot to the ball, and fed Josh Adams, who accepted the match-deciding penalty.

Jarrod Evans

Mercurial missed the pivot to autumn’s squad and appears to be somehow below Pivac’s pecking order, while he is playing second fiddle for Priestland in Cardiff this period.

But he remains the most talented fly-half Wales is, both in terms of his ability with the ball in hand and his defence-splitting breaks, as he confirmed on a rare start against Quins, with BT commentator Monáe calling him ” Excellent”.

A mark in the debit column was a very direct penalty he felt on wide positions.

Shane Lewis Hughes

It was great to see the three-time capped Flanker back there for his first start since last February.

You may not know how little rugby he has played recently from the way he has performed.

He picked up a great line to make a significant bust in the build-up for Lane’s first try and showed good hands ahead of Corey Domachowski’s score.

Shane Lewis-Hughes made the break against the Harlequins

His USP, then, was his defense, as he showed off his abrasive physicality in some trademark big hits.

Josh Navidi, Ross Moriarty and Dan Liddiet have all been sidelined, it’s welcome news for Pivac to fit a specialist six and re-firing.

Alice Jenkins

Jenkins was the only one who wore the number 6 jersey for Wales in the autumn, but he had returned to his more traditional openside role for Cardiff against Quins.

As do most 7s, he ran tight, pushing things to the limit on breakdown, inflicting some punishment in the process, but his effort was there to see.

Perhaps remains the favorite to occupy the blindside berth in Dublin.

Rhys Carré

It was a rough night at the office for the 16-cap loosehead, with Harlequin dominating the scrum-time.

He really had his work cut out against Will Collier, who formed a powerful propping pair with Joe Marler.

Carey won the jackal’s penalty off the ball and made his usual contribution around the field, making six tackles.

But it’s bread and butter for a prop and it’s likely Wyn Jones will get the nod against the Irish at No.

Josh Adams

There weren’t many opportunities in space for the Lions winger, while the evening ended disappointingly for him as he scored a last-gasp penalty after running across the field, allowing Marcus Smith to steal the booty.

There is a lot of competition with Lane, Rees-Zammitt, Johnny McNichol and Liam Williams all contenders for the Wells wing, while one wonders if Adams can still be moved to outside centre.

willis halaholo

Coming to the centre, Halaholo looks to be the favorite for one of the starting spots against Ireland, especially with No 12 rival Johnny Williams injured.

He had some nice touches on Friday night, although it was his good friend Ray Lee Low who was really shining in Cardiff midfield.

Dillon Lewis

It’s a welcome return for the 34-cap Tighthead, who has been battling foot problems for the past few months.

Called into action before the break when Dimitri Arhip was sin-bind, he stayed and had a fine run-out, which marked his return by driving Cardiff to try to give him the lead in the middle of the second half.

Being in Wales 23 for the trip to Dublin is a good bet, given that he can make an impact with his mobility and his jacking on the ball.

kirby myhill

After making his Wales debut against New Zealand in October, Mayhill faced stiff competition for a Six Nations squad spot, with Ryan Elias, Eliot Dee, Bradley Roberts and Davey Lake all in shake-ups.

Tried hard against Quins, but picked up a yellow card of late, which saw his younger brother Torin coming onto the field, with the visitors cashing in on their extra man for a dramatic 36-33 win.

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