After a terrific late comeback saw Cardiff snatch victory from the jaws of another defeat last week against Ulster, we head out on the road this week to reigning champions Glasgow and a very tough match as the season enters the latter stages, with just two months of Pro12 games left.
Cardiff 23-13 Ulster: https://cardiffbluesblog.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/cardiff-23-13-ulster/
Since our last encounter at the Arms Park in November, Glasgow have been largely inconsistent and as such find themselves 8th in the league and knocked out of the Champions Cup. Impressive wins over Racing 92 and a double against Llanelli were countered by back-to-back losses in the Scottish derby during the festive period. Recently, a loss to Ulster was followed by a narrow comeback victory over Munster last week as the Warriors came out 27-24 winners in Kilmarnock.
That last game in November, where Cardiff went down 30-35, was our sixth straight loss to start the season, but was the beginning of the end for that bad run as an encouraging performance saw Danny Wilson begin to turn things around on the field. We didn’t hit our best until the start of December though so this Sunday’s game will be a good test of where we are against last year’s Pro12 Final winners.
Despite being in good form, the team have done little to overcome bogey teams this season as we have lost both Pro12 games in Italy and now face Glasgow who we haven’t beaten in over five years. It was a 15-26 win in Scotland that day thanks to a Tom James try and the boot of Ceri Sweeney, but apart from Heineken Cup victories in the meantime, there have been no league wins in nine attempts.
However, if we play like we did in the last 15-20 minutes against Ulster last week for an extended period of time then there could be no stopping us. The ball was moving quickly and freely along the back line resulting in two very well taken tries, and the defence was functioning with a togetherness and speed that forces turnovers. It was an almost perfect section of play, the trick is now to re-create that consistently and for more of the game.
One of the key components in our turn around of form last week was Jarrod Evans’ introduction at outside-half allowing Rhys Patchell to drop to full-back, and Danny Wilson has taken note of this by using that combination from the start in Glasgow. Dan Fish moves from full-back to the wing as Tom James has, for reasons I don’t know, not been released by Team Wales. One change up front sees the impressive Brad Thyer miss out through injury this week, Tom Davies his replacement, meanwhile on the bench loosehead prop Corey Domachowski and centre Harri Millard could make their senior debuts after impressing for Wales U20s and Ethan Lewis makes his return to the matchday squad.
Cardiff squad v Glasgow: 15 Rhys Patchell, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Aled Summerhill, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Dan Fish, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Tomos Williams; 1 Thomas Davies, 2 Matthew Rees (c), 3 Salesi Ma’afu, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 James Down, 6 Josh Turnbull, 7 Ellis Jenkins, 8 Manoa Vosawai
Subs: 16 Ethan Lewis, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Taufa’ao Filise, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Garyn Smith, 23 Harri Millard
So a big test of how far we’ve come as a team, and whether we can mix it with the bigger sides on the road. It’s these type of games you need to be taking points from if a serious challenge to the play-off spots is mounted. In terms of this season, a win would see us close the gap on the top eight, while a loss would leave us in no-man’s land between the bottom three and those above us. An important game on a few levels, but one I’m feeling confident about. Come on Cardiff!!
Cardiff record v Glasgow: W 12 L 15
Cardiff form: WLWWLWWLLW
Glasgow form: WWLLLLWDLW
Cardiff top try scorer: Tom James (9)
Glasgow top try scorer: Taqele Nalyaravoro (7)
Cardiff top points scorer: Rhys Patchell (201)
Glasgow top points scorer: Duncan Weir (83)
Dudley Phillips (IRFU) – Good news, a neutral referee! Bad news, it’s Dudders. Refereed our loss in Treviso a few weeks ago and was a pretty big homer by all accounts. We know Irish referees haven’t had a great few weeks, maybe things can get better from here!