Halfway through the festive period, and indeed the season, we face Llanelli at home on New Year’s Day with a win the aim to kick 2016 off with a bang. After starting the season very slowly, a win at CAP would make it three league wins in a row for the first time since April/May 2014 as momentum continues to build over recent weeks.
While the confidence does grow from results, I think it’s fair to say the first 7o minutes of the performance last time out in Newport wasn’t the best. Aimless kicking and a conservative game plan put us on the brink of a loss, but a few changes and a shift in tactics during the last 10 minutes saw us remember how to play rugby and steal the victory. Hopefully the lessons are learnt from last weekend.
Newport 20-21 Cardiff: https://cardiffbluesblog.wordpress.com/2015/12/29/newport-20-21-cardiff/
With the greatest of respect to Newport (not really), let’s hope the lessons have been learnt as Cardiff face a much tougher opposition at CAP in Llanelli. The early season Pro12 pace setters, along with Connacht, they really benefitted from the World Cup and flew out of the season blocks going unbeaten through September and October. The run was stopped by Leinster in November, and since then they’ve struggled slightly. Four losses from four Champions Cup group of death games have come either side of wins over both Italian sides, before an agonising 26-27 loss to Ospreys on Boxing Day in Llanelli.
Overall we haven’t got the greatest of records against the West Wales club, with just 10 wins from 28 meetings. However, the key stat is that we haven’t lost at home to Llanelli since December 2012, something which could be a massive boost psychologically for the Cardiff boys. Having won both of the last two home games we are really taking steps towards making Cardiff Arms Park a fortress, and a win here would help to cement that.
Danny Wilson has certainly picked a team to do that. For the second week running I would say we are seeing the strongest Cardiff team from those available. Three changes are made to the side that beat Newport, as Jarrad Hoeata returns from a slight knock in place of Lou Reed, who drops down to the bench and Cameron Dolan misses out. In the backs, Dan Fish and Cory Allen both start after transforming the game in our favour at Rodney Parade. They replace youngsters Jarrod Evans and Garyn Smith as Danny Wilson opts for experience in this big game. It’s also important not to over expose either player at an early age, they do need to be protected.
So a strong and confident Cardiff team for this massive game. With no Pro12 action until the 30th January after New Year’s Day a win could be a huge boost to the league season, and put us to within eight points of the top four in the table. It would also be a great win to take into two weeks off and then the final European pool games. With a bumper CAP crowd expected, let’s hope they are entertained with a Cardiff win and tempted to come back and keep supporting the boys. Come on Cardiff!!
Cardiff record v Llanelli: W 10 D 0 L 18
Cardiff form: WLLLLLLWLLWWLW
Llanelli form: WWWWWWLLLWWLLL
Cardiff top try scorer: Tom James (6)
Llanelli top try scorers: James Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, DTH van der Merwe (4)
Cardiff top points scorer: Rhys Patchell (154)
Llanelli top points scorer: Steve Shingler (54)
Ben Whitehouse (WRU) – God help us all! Refereed our game in Leinster and very harshly sent Josh Navidi to the sin bin, before doing the same to Josh Turnbull at Ulster. Also, failed to send Aled Summerhill off for a dangerous tip tackle. His officiating is as bad as his spelling on Twitter.