The season finally draws to a close on Saturday as Cardiff Blues travel to Scotland to take on Edinburgh at Murrayfield. After last weekend’s Judgement Day loss to Ospreys hopes of a Champions Cup qualification were dashed but there is still opportunity to finish above our West Wales rivals with a win here and an Ulster win in Swansea.
Cardiff 27-40 Ospreys: https://cardiffbluesblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/04/cardiff-27-40-ospreys/
It has certainly been an up and down season, well more like a down then up then down then up season, but it has really finished on a positive note in recent weeks despite last Saturday’s result. Whatever happens here I think we can be very excited for the future under Danny Wilson and his coaching team.
This season was just one too soon: https://cardiffbluesblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/05/a-step-too-far/
One thing for sure is that this won’t be some kind of season ending jolly up to Edinburgh, as the home side are still in with a shot, albeit a long one, of making that sixth place for Champions Cup. If they beat us with a bonus point and hope both Ospreys and Munster lose then they finish sixth so they’ll be going all out for the four tries. We’ll definitely have a game on our hands to end the season on a high.
When it comes to the statistics we’re not looking too bad against the Scottish capital side. We beat them 10-3 at CAP back in January, which was one of the worst games I’ve seen this season, thanks to an early Dan Fish try and 60 minutes of scoreless play so extended our home winning streak over them to four games.
Away from home we arrive having lost 28-13 last season in a bad tempered game where Sam Hobbs, Jarrad Hoeata and Ellis Jenkins were all sin binned. That was an anomaly though as the squad that day possessed six players who will play in the Welsh Premiership next season and we hadn’t lost in Edinburgh since 2009 before that. Overall head-to-head leans 18-12 in our favour.
In terms of recent weeks that form has made us probably slight favourites as well with that loss at the Millennium Stadium our first in five, while Edinburgh have lost to Leinster and Edinburgh back-to-back. We struggled somewhat last week in a bruising encounter with the Ospreys to really place our attacking mark on the game, while one or two defensive mistakes cost us. If we return to the way we played in the weeks before I’m confident we can make the last game a good one.
As a result of that game last week we have lost Sam Warburton to a shoulder injury so Danny Wilson gives Cameron Dolan another chance in the first team after a few weeks with the Rags. He comes into the second row where he impressed against Munster while Josh Turnbull slides back to flanker in the only change from the pack.
Behind them we have two returning from unavailability in Lloyd Williams, who passes the concussion protocols, and new father Tom James. Lewis Jones and Tom Isaacs both drop out of the squad to make way, with Tomos Williams, Jarrod Evans and Gavin Evans keeping their places on the bench, joined by Scott Andrews and Lou Reed.
Cardiff team vs Edinburgh: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Aled Summerhill, 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 Cam Dolan, 5 James Down, 6 Josh Turnbull, 7 Ellis Jenkins, 8 Josh Navidi
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Lou Reed, 20 Macauley Cook, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Gavin Evans
A strong team named where perhaps I would have preferred to see one or two younger players given a chance, but there’s a reason I’m just writing these articles and not in charge of the team! Obviously finishing above the Ospreys would be a huge bonus to finish the season and I certainly hope we can be the second best Welsh club for a bit of extra confidence to take into next season. Come on Cardiff!!
Cardiff record vs Edinburgh – W 18 L 12
Cardiff form: WLLWLWWWWL
Edinburgh form: LWLLWLWWLL
Cardiff top try scorer: Tom James (11)
Edinburgh top try scorer: Damien Hoyland (8)
Cardiff top points scorer: Rhys Patchell (230)
Edinburgh top points scorer: Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (116)
John Lacey (IRFU) – The second best referee in the World if you ask the Irish Independent! At least it’s a neutral referee for a change. Taken charge of eight Cardiff games in his career, with just two wins for us, although the most recent of them was the only of our games he has appeared at this season, Ulster at CAP, and the other was this fixture in February 2013, so you never know! Just nine yellow cards in 15 games so hopefully not the five sin binnings we saw last year in this game.