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Blues and Ospreys name teams for Champions Cup shootout

Cardiff Blues' Gareth Anscombe.

Cardiff Blues have picked Gareth Anscombe for the Judgemnent Day clash against the Ospreys which is effectively a two-team shootout for a Heieneken Champions Cup playoff place.

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The Blues are currently one-point adrift of the Ospreys, who sit fourth in Conference A.

Anscombe will join the Ospreys next season, but John Mulvihill had no hesitation in selecting the New Zealander.

“I have no doubts over Gareth’s commitment. He is the consummate professional and is hugely competitive. He has had a great season here at Cardiff Blues and will want to go out on a high.

Nick Williams returns to captain Cardiff Blues as Mulvihill makes four changes for Saturday’s match.

Williams missed recent defeats to Munster and Connacht due to injury but hands the Blues a significant boost for the all-important Guinness PRO14 encounter.

With his return to fitness, George Earle drops to the bench and Seb Davies reverts to the second-row.

The other changes come in the backs with Lloyd Williams given the nod at scrum-half and Jarrod Evans at fly-half with Anscombe moving to full-back.

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Elsewhere, Aled Summerhill is back to take his place on the wing in the place of Jason Harries.

Tighthead prop, Dillon Lewis, retains the number three jersey as he is set to hit a half century of appearances for his home region.

Head coach Mulvihill said: “It is great to have Nick back to lead the team on Saturday. He is such an important player to our group, who leads by example, galvanises the team and gets us over the gain-line.

“We have had a great couple of weeks of preparation and the boys a highly motivated to claim a fifth derby win of the season, especially after losing at the Liberty Stadium in January.”

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“It’s a winner-takes-all, so whoever wins this game will finish fourth in the pool and will probably be the best Welsh region across the calendar year.

“It’s a game of massive significance for us, after tasting Heineken Champions Cup rugby this year, and we want to go back and player there again next year.”

The Ospreys have been boosted by the returns from injury of Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones and winger George North. Neither have played since Wales’ Grand Slam win over Ireland on March 16th. Jones has been struggling with an knee injury while North broke a bone in his hand.

Number 8 James King will make his 200th Ospreys appearance, becoming just the sixth player to reach that landmark for the Region.

Ospreys head coach Allen Clarke said “Our goal for the season has been to achieve Champions Cup qualification, Saturday provides another opportunity to keep that goal alive.

“Over the last number of months we’ve approached it one game at a time aiming to improve on a daily basis and delivering on the pitch. There’s a tremendous buzz in the camp coming off the back of three bonus point wins. Those performances have been forged on the back of a good balance between quality training and enjoyment.”

“We’re under no illusions to the challenge and level of performance required against Cardiff on Saturday. It’s important we focus on our processes, do what we do well and the scoreboard will look after itself.”

Cardiff Blues: 15. Gareth Anscombe; 14. Owen Lane, 13. Rey Lee-Lo, 12. Willis Halaholo, 11. Aled Summerhill; 10. Jarrod Evans, 9. Lloyd Williams; 1. Rhys Gill, 2. Ethan Lewis, 3. Dillon Lewis, 4. Seb Davies, 5. Rory Thornton, 6. Josh Turnbull, 7. Olly Robinson, 8. Nick Williams (capt.)

Replacements: 16. Kirby Myhill, 17. Rhys Carre, 18. Dmitri Arhip, 19. George Earle, 20. Shane Lewis-Hughes, 21. Tomos Williams, 22. Garyn Smith, 23. Jason Harries

Ospreys: 15. Dan Evans 14; George North, 13. Cory Allen, 12. Owen Watkin, 11. Hanno Dirksen, 10. Sam Davies, 9. Aled Davies; 1. Nicky Smith 2. Scott Baldwin, 3. Tom Botha, 4. Adam Beard, 5. Alun Wyn Jones, 6. Olly Cracknell, 7. Justin Tipuric (Capt), 8. James King

Replacements: 16. Sam Parry, 17. Rhodri Jones, 18. Ma’afu Fia, 19. Bradley Davies, 20. Dan Lydiate, 21. Matthew Aubrey, 22. Luke Price, 23. Keelan Giles.

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sean 30 minutes ago
The bite don't match the bark

Yeah, he has a few good points… I disagree that our 7s haven't done anything, we won Bronze in 2016, and we were virtually unplayable to the backend of the “teens” winning the series. 7s is far more competitive globally than Union, so it's fair to say we haven't dominated, but we are almost always contenders. But I do agree that our national side doesn't perform nearly as well as it should between World Cups, and I do agree that our supporters can be too passionate and the opitimity of what Rugby stands against. I have said so many times. And I also believe some context needs to be taken into account with Saturday's win for Ireland. They're a really good team! Settled coaching staff, and bar a few legends retiring, they've had a full season and plenty of time together. We have some youngsters being groomed for the future, have played only 3 games now under a new coaching team with new philosophies and game plans. I'm excited by what the future of this team holds, as much as I am disappointed by the result. But unlike this article suggests, I am never going to take away from what Ireland has achieved, is achieving, and where they're heading. As a Rugby fan, I love the tight games, like the last two weekends. As a Bok Super Fan, I agree we don't perform as well as we should. And as an aside, you come play a game at 7am on our fields, bud. -2°c and frost on the field that is as hard as concrete…. Then we’ll see just how tough you are. Well done Ireland! They played well, and gave our boys a lot to think about. That's what you want from the top two teams in the world. Rugby won. The fans of this greatbsport won. A'n bullshit like this article is why Rugby is losing its identity. I don't like soccer. This article perpetuates the soccer influences the game of Rugby is starting to see. It's why Wayne Barnes retired, feared for his family, and he isn't the only ref to say so. I have called out many Bok fans for being an embarrassment to the game, and I will continue to do so. Rugbypass.com, this article is close to the same bullshit. You should be better.

33 Go to comments
M
Michael 1 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Cant deny Christie is a good defender, box kicks well at times, BUT he’s a second too slow passing from the ground. Roigard, Ratima and Hotham will be our 2027 halfbacks I believe DMAC has played reasonably well in both games, so deserves to keep his place - his two breaks at Eden Park should have resulted in tries. Reece was really to blame for the Taylor failure - he stayed too wide, if he had come in a couple of meters the pass from Taylor would have worked. The Perofeta failure was extraordinary, he is normally such a good distributor, failure to draw in Steward was remarkable, failure to look inside was a shocker. Cory Flynn as lineout coach… umm something a miss here. Not sure who is calling the lineouts, but clearly we miss Whitelock’s leadership. Having a disfunctional line out really underminded the AB attack. But let’s remind ourselves Itoje is a master, and their tactics of going for the arms of the jumper on landing and pulling over was brilliant causing Paddy and Scooter to both fumble the balls. I am a Blues supporter so I like Talea, but if you play him on the wrong wing look out. While he’s not the fastest wing, he’s elusive and very industrious always looking for work. However, he’s not the tallest player, and everyone knows his weakness (a) being turned in defence - he’s slow to turn and react and (b) never jumps for high balls is normally out jumped. Personally, I find Recce and Talea too alike - Razor needs to couple them with another complementary partner Clark and Narawa respectively. However, for me the real troubling challenge is our mid-field. I am sorry Barrett & Ioane are a poor combo - either Barrett & Proctor or ALB & Ioane - but having two mid-fielders who are poor distributors is nuts. Jordie had a forgettable game in truth he missed so many tackles, which to be fair is unlike him. But sadly both Barrett and Ioane chose to bash first and rarely distribute cleanly.

22 Go to comments
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