Cardiff Blues Autumn International review

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Another November has come and gone where Wales promised much in the first week, scraped past a tier two side in the second week, got hammered in the third week and won a tepid fourth game that raised £1.25m.

Fortunately, rather than suddenly predict a Six Nations win is just around the corner, Welsh fans and media alike finally seem to be coming round to the school of thought that the national team is stagnating under a stale coaching staff led by Warren Gatland.

However, with all that playing out in the background, there were Cardiff Blues players in action across Europe, and indeed the World, so let’s see how they got on.

Wales

In the red shirt of Wales there was one stand out performer, not just of the Cardiff Blues contingent, but the squad as a whole.

Josh Navidi was a colossus throughout the Autumn Internationals, starting against the big three Southern Hemisphere sides of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, as well as coming off the bench against Georgia to double his number of caps.

Overall the back rower made 63 tackles across the four games, missing just two, and banishing worries about his perceived lack of size by carrying effectively against some of the most physical back rowers in world rugby.

Plaudits aplenty were earned for the Arms Park favourite, who is now almost assured of a spot in Wales’ Six Nations squad, assuming he stays fit.

Aside from Navidi there were also appearances for his Cardiff Blues team-mates Kristian Dacey, Scott Andrews, Seb Davies and Alex Cuthbert throughout the series.

Cuthbert Wales
Alex Cuthbert featured during November

 

Two starts, against Georgia and South Africa, as well as two substitute appearances appear to have cemented Dacey’s position as the second choice hooker ahead of Scott Baldwin and Elliott Dee.

Alex Cuthbert started against Georgia, before being ruled out of the rest of the series with a muscle injury, while Seb Davies was bizarrely selected at 8 against the tier two side, a position he hasn’t played in senior professional rugby.

The much maligned Scott Andrews, meanwhile, was thrown in at the deep end as Wales suffered a tighthead crisis, and he returned to save the day from a loan spell at Bath. In fairness to Bubba, he put in a hell of a shift against a dominant South Africa pack, staying on the field for a full 80 minutes.

USA

Eagles captain Blaine Scully was in international action during November as he skippered his national team to a win and a loss in Europe.

Scoring a try as the USA beat Germany, they followed that up by slipping to defeat to Georgia, as preparations continue towards the 2019 World Cup.

blaine-scully-usa-2
Blaine Scully is the USA captain

 

Samoa

Centre Rey Lee-Lo moved his caps tally onto 17 for Manu Samoa over November, although it was a disappointing campaign for his national side amid a myriad of financial problems.

On the eve of the Autumn Internationals the Samoan Rugby Union effectively declared itself bankrupt, sparking an outpouring of support for the players who were earning little in comparison to some of their opposition.

Despite some brave performances, Samoa would end up losing three from three, to Scotland, Romania and England, but they won plenty of friends along the way.

Wales 7s

The HSBC World Sevens Series also kicked off again during November for the 2017/18 season, with the first two legs taking place in Dubai and South Africa.

Cardiff Blues academy centre Cameron Lewis was called up for the first time by Wales and featured as the Welsh won the 13th place play-off in Dubai before being knocked out in the Trophy semi-finals in Cape Town.

The next two legs take place in the last week of January and first week of February in Australia and New Zealand.

Cameron Lewis
Cameron Lewis (right) is spending some time with the Wales 7s setup

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