Richard Hodges’ Cardiff A team welcome the exiles London Welsh to Cardiff Arms Park for a crucial British and Irish Cup match on Saturday. After a shaky start to the pool stages it leaves the Cardiff side effectively needing two wins from the last two games to stand any chance of qualifying for the knockout stages.
Even then we’d still be relying on other teams but it would be a good chance to qualify still. It won’t be easy though, as we first up face London Welsh who have already beaten us in the first game at Old Deer Park. Since then the Exiles have only lost twice in six games, to Cornish Pirates in the league and a Christmas time battering by Bristol, 35-0. They come into this week’s encounter after a 32-6 victory over Moseley to leave them 8th in the Championship.
London Welsh 32-29 Cardiff A: https://cardiffbluesblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/26/london-welsh-29-32-cardiff-a/
That first game was the first encounter between Cardiff and London Welsh, ending 32-29. It really should have been an A team victory, but a complete loss of concentration late in the game led to a miraculous turnaround for the home side to take all the points and leave us without a win until the trip to Cornwall just before Christmas.
Cornish Pirates 15-18 Cardiff A: https://cardiffbluesblog.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/cornish-pirates-15-18-cardiff-a/
Richard Hodges has spoken in the build up about the BIC and how the players must respond to it, “The team has had to learn quickly this season that English Championship sides play a brand of rugby that is often very different to the Welsh Premiership. It has taken us a few games to adjust but we’ve been pleased with the player’s attitude and determination to make our first campaign in the B&I Cup a successful one.” To reflect that change in styles and just how crucial this game is, there have been a few changes to the squad.
First-teamers Aled Summerhill, Richard Smith and Tom Isaacs in the backs, with Gareth Davies also picked ahead of young Jarrod Evans at 10. Up front Craig Mitchell, Cam Dolan, Chris Dicomidis and Jevon Groves start, while the Scott Andrews at hooker experiment continues. Joining the experienced players are Harri Millard and Elis Wyn Benham making their A team debuts in the backs and Tomos Williams links them to the forwards as he continues his injury recovery. From the Premiership, Rhys Shellard starts at openside, while Ashleigh James and Gavin Dacey take their place on the bench.
Cardiff A team vs London Welsh: 15 Aled Summerhill, 14 Richard Smith, 13 Tom Isaacs, 12 Harri Millard, 11 Elis-Wyn Benham, 10 Gareth Davies, 9 Tomos Williams; 1 Brad Thyer, 2 Scott Andrews, 3 Craig Mitchell, 4 Cam Dolan, 5 Chris Dicomidis , 6 Jevon Groves (c), 7 Rhys Shellard , 8 James Sheekey
Replacements: 16 Ashleigh James, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Miles Normandale, 19 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 20 Lewis Jones, 21 Jarrod Evans, 22 Gavin Dacey
So a strong team generally, with a few players needing to prove a point there and some youngsters looking to show their potential. To put it plainly it’s a must-win game, and a chance for these players to perform under pressure. Richard Hodges has the faith in these lads, be good to see a few fans down there to support them. Come on Cardiff!!
Cardiff A record v London Welsh: W 0 L 1
Cardiff A form: DLLW
London Welsh form: WLWWLLWLLLWWLWWLW
Cardiff A top try scorers: Owen Lane, Richard Smith and Aled Summerhill (2)
London Welsh top try scorer: Guy Armitage (9)
Cardiff A top points scorer: Gareth Davies (27)
London Welsh top points scorer: Olly Barkley (56)
Someone Irish as per.