After last week’s disaster, it’s back to league action on Saturday as we trek West for an hour on the M4 to Swansea and the Liberty Stadium. Please refer back to the last four or five match preview blogs for the weekly ‘this is the time to kickstart our season’ stuff, which probably won’t happen anyway.
When it comes to games against the ‘one true region’, Cardiff haven’t had the greatest record it’s fair to say. Our last win did come at the Liberty just two years ago, but it was in the LV Cup so it doesn’t count. The last results of note came in 2010/11, when we drew 21-21 in Swansea, Dan Parks kicking all our points, and earlier in the season we recorded our last league win over the Os, a 27-25 thriller, with a Tom James try contributing in front of over 22,000 people at Cardiff City Stadium. Not sure the Ospreys boasting about their 9,000 tickets sold will match up to that.
It’s been an interesting start to the season for our rivals, as they’ve suffered poor form similar to that of ours, languishing in 8th place of the Pro12 table, with just two wins, against the two Italian sides, to their name. They have, however, had a very decent European break indeed, following a comprehensive win over over Exeter with a very tight 34-29 loss away at French big-hitters Clermont. With all their Welsh World Cup stars back and in good shape, it’s a mountain to climb for our Cardiff no-hopers.
In terms of our team I have to say I’m very disappointed in the selection. Firstly, the fact that 134 year old Filise has kept his place is ridiculous. His scrummaging is average and he offers nothing around the field, and we have Craig Mitchell on the bench. Then behind him, Lou Reed over Jarrad Hoeata? Just bizarre. I don’t understand where Garyn Smith and Aled Summerhill are either. Only good news is that Jarrod Evans gets the nod over Gareth Davies to replace the concussed Rhys Patchell.
Cardiff team vs Ospreys: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Tom James, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Lloyd Williams; 1 Gethin Jenkins (c), 2 Kristian Dacey, 3 Taufa’ao Filise, 4 Lou Reed, 5 James Down, 6 Josh Turnbull, 7 Sam Warburton, 8 Manoa Vosawai
Replacements: 16 Ethan Lewis, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Craig Mitchell, 19 Jarrad Hoeata, 20 Macauley Cook, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 Tom Isaacs
Quite simply, it’s a massive game for us that could define the season. Win, and it might spark the confidence that the team so desperately need to go and play proper rugby each week. Lose, and it’s a season destined to be spent battling it out with Italian teams. If there’s any game the players should be getting up for, it’s a Welsh derby away in Swansea. Anybody on that team who plays with the attitude they did against Harlequins last week, should be left off the team bus with their ripped up contract in their hands, quite frankly. 100% effort from all 23 players, especially in defence, for 80 minutes, that’s all I ask for. Come on Cardiff!!!!!
Cardiff record v Ospreys: W 8 D 1 L 18
Cardiff form: WLLLLLLWL
Ospreys form: LLLWLLWWL
Cardiff top points scorer: Rhys Patchell (105)
Ospreys top points scorer: Sam Davies (57)
Cardiff top try scorer: Josh Turnbull/Tom James (4)
Ospreys top try scorer: Justin Tipuric/Eli Walker (3)
Nigel Owens (WRU) – It’s Nigel! The best referee in the World returns to save the abysmal quality of the Pro12 referees. Hoping for some decent quips, such as ‘well you’ve all been just dreadful this season’, to the Cardiff pack.