Cardiff head West this weekend to take on Llanelli in the first of a series of Welsh derbies that take us into the end of the season. Coming off impressive back-to-back bonus point wins at the Arms Park it’s a return to road trips that have treated us so poorly this year, and this particular trip where we have had such little joy.
It is now six years since we last won at Parc y Scarlets, when in the 2009/10 season we battered Llanelli 16-39. Tau Filise scored that day as we did the double over the West Wales side for the first, and so far only, time. After a 29-27 win during the Christmas period though the chance is there again this season, and it’s probably the best one we’ve had for a while.
Coming off the back of two bonus point wins is a confidence boost for any side, and when you consider just how well we played in both those games, it makes for an exciting possibility on Saturday. I know they say form goes out the window on these occasions, but the team have to keep those wins at the very forefront of their minds and work to play in that form for the majority of the game.
It won’t be easy against this high flying Llanelli team though. After an impressive victory away at Ospreys last week they sit third in the Pro12, having benefitted from a fantastic start to the season during the World Cup. They’ve lost just once at PyS in 2015/16, to their West Wales rivals over Christmas and are looking very good for the end of season play-offs.
To try and counteract the threat from Llanelli’s all-Wales front row Danny Wilson has gone for experience. Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees and Tau Filise all start with a combined age of 124.They are backed up by the same 12 that started behind the front row last week as we go for the powerful balance up front and the pace of the back line. It’s the correct formula, and if we can get the upper hand at the set piece we will give ourselves the best chance of winning.
Cardiff team v Llanelli: 15 Rhys Patchell, 14 Dan Fish, 13 Garyn Smith, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Tom James, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Lloyd Williams; 1 Gethin Jenkins (c), 2 Matthew Rees, 3 Taufa’ao Filise, 4 Josh Turnbull, 5 James Down, 6 Sam Warburton, 7 Ellis Jenkins, 8 Josh Navidi
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Jarrad Hoeata, 20 Manoa Vosawai, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Aled Summerhill
So a good team and some good form. It’ll be a test of the side’s bottle under Danny Wilson as well, but after some good derby wins already, and recent excellent form we can win if we play well for the majority of the game again. Get the upper hand and the scrums early and back ourselves in the back line to play rugby. It’s not a difficult formula, it’s just about pulling it off when it matters. Come on Cardiff!!
Cardiff record v Llanelli: W 16 D 0 L 9
Cardiff form: WLWWLLWLWW
Llanelli form: LWLLLWWLWW
Cardiff top try scorer: Tom James (10)
Llanelli top try scorer: DTH Van Der Merwe (8)
Cardiff top points scorer: Rhys Patchell (230)
Llanelli top points scorer: Aled Thomas (127)
Marius Mitrea (FIR) – The Italian takes charge of the big Welsh derby this week, and it’s not good news for Cardiff. With just one win in seven games he’s taken charge of us, and already refereeing a loss for us at home to Glasgow this season, he’s not the person we’d want in charge when we’re looking for a bit of luck. With 22 yellow cards in 15 games this season the sin bin might need to be ready on Saturday.