Match Preview: Cardiff Blues vs. Ulster Rugby

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Match Preview: Cardiff Blues vs. Ulster Rugby

Post by ADM » Thu Sep 18, 2014 2:31 pm

[tag=image]http://cdn.soticservers.net/tools/image ... 250/14.png[/tag][tag=content]I assume I am not alone in sitting down on a Thursday night and watching Rugby Club on Sky Sports, a programme which has become a lot more interesting now that the majority of it is dedicated to previewing and reviewing the Pro12.

If so then you will probably have watched in shared amazement as the majority of Sky’s pundits predicted that our opponents tomorrow night will comfortably finish in the top four of the Pro12, with some going as far as to put them as top seeds. No disrespect to the Blues of course, but based on last week’s capitulation against the Glasgow Warriors, I’d have to laugh in the faces of Stuart Barnes and co.

I won’t get ahead of myself of course as the Arms Park is not exactly somewhere we have very fond memories of, however for all this “strengthening” that the Blues have done in the off-season, it was extremely lacking on Saturday, none more so than in the fitness department as by the end of the game they were huffing and puffing simply to deny the Warriors a bonus point, which to be fair they didn’t deserve anyway.

On the flipside, if anybody walked away from the Kingspan last Friday night feeling satisfied with that performance, then they have incredibly low standards. Zebre were a side we should’ve put away with little to no hassle, yet it took a yellow card to actually spark us into life – a concerning fact in itself. I think it would be something of an understatement to say that currently we are not firing on all cylinders.

It’s relieving though that it is Les Kiss still at the helm. With Schmidt-like attention to detail and a thorough work ethic, you can guarantee that he will be the most disappointed with Ulster’s laboured win, and you can bet that he will have been very hard on the boys going into this week. As overrated I feel Cardiff are, it’s still going to take a lot more to beat them on their own turf than it did to take down Zebre at home.

We can take a lot of heart from what we’ll have seen from Glasgow last week though. They did very well to repel the Blues in the first half and once they tired the Warriors pounced and nearly stole a bonus point at the death. If we can shore up the rather large holes that have been painfully evident in our defence over the last two weeks then we stand a very good chance at leaving Cardiff with all five points, provided our attacking potency is as lethal as it has been so far.

In fact, these are the games that we should be aiming to win every season. Again, no offence to Cardiff, but if we really want to establish ourselves as a team that has the potential to win this league then we need to get rid of the “nearly men” tag and instead see these banana skin games as four points to be taken. As I mentioned in midweek, the Leinsters and Glasgows of this world see this as the potential to make up ground with a win. So should we.

Cardiff’s side features just three changes to the team that lost to Glasgow last week. There is a significant reshuffle of the backs with Richard Smith and Gareth Davies being promoted to the first team at wing and fly-half respectively with Rhys Patchell moving to full-back from fly-half and Adam Thomas shifting from full-back to outside centre with Cory Allen dropping to the bench and Dan Fish dropping out of the side altogether. The tight five of the Blues is unchanged from last week, but Josh Navidi is the solitary change in the back row as he replaces Sam Warburton at openside flanker.

Les Kiss has made four changes to the side that disposed of Zebre last week, including the returns of Tommy Bowe and Paddy Jackson. Bowe and Jackson are straight swaps for Craig Gilroy and Ian Humphreys, both of whom must settle for spots on the bench. One other change in the backs sees Louis Ludik return to full-back ahead of Ricky Andrew. The front and back rows are unchanged, with Franco van der Merwe the only change in the forwards, replacing Lewis Stevenson at lock.

I’m always impressed by the Arms Park as such a historic ground that is overshadowed by the Millennium Stadium – both figuratively and literally. However, tomorrow night is not the time to admire a rugby ground with such a history, it’s time to emulate our performance there from a couple of seasons ago and leave with five comfortable points and send out a firm message to the rugby world.

It’s what the best do.

Cardiff Blues vs. Ulster Rugby
Friday 19th September, 19:35
BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park
Guinness PRO12 – Round 3

Live on BBC2 NI and BBC2 Wales

CARDIFF BLUES
15. Rhys Patchell, 14. Alex Cuthbert, 13. Adam Thomas, 12. Gavin Evans, 11. Richard Smith, 10. Gareth Davies, 9. Lewis Jones; 1. Sam Hobbs, 2. Matthew Rees (capt.), 3. Adam Jones, 4. Jarrad Hoeata, 5. Filo Paulo, 6. Josh Turnbull, 7. Josh Navidi, 8. Manoa Vosawai.

16. Rhys Williams, 17. Taufa’ao Filise, 18. Scott Andrews, 19. Macauley Cook, 20. Ellis Jenkins, 21. Lloyd Williams, 22. Cory Allen, 23. Geraint Walsh.

ULSTER RUGBY
15. Louis Ludik, 14. Andrew Trimble, 13. Darren Cave, 12. Stuart Olding, 11. Tommy Bowe, 10. Paddy Jackson, 9. Paul Marshall; 1. Andrew Warwick, 2. Rory Best (capt.), 3. Wiehahn Herbst, 4. Dan Tuohy, 5. Franco van der Merwe, 6. Robbie Diack, 7. Chris Henry, 8. Nick Williams.

16. Rob Herring, 17. Callum Black, 18. Bronson Ross, 19. Neil McComb, 20. Roger Wilson, 21. Michael Heaney, 22. Ian Humphreys, 23. Craig Gilroy.

Referee: Neil Paterson (SRU, 61st competition game)
Assistant Referees: Leighton Hodges, Jon Mason (both WRU)
Citing Commissioner: Denis Jones (WRU)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (WRU)[/tag]

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