Preview: Cardiff Blues v Edinburgh

Date published: April 20 2012

Edinburgh head coach Michael Bradley has rung the changes for Saturday's RaboDirect PRO12 away clash with Cardiff Blues.

Edinburgh head coach Michael Bradley has promoted almost the entire bench from the quarter-final win over Toulouse to his starting line-up for Saturday's PRO 12 clash with Cardiff Blues.

Bradley has throws down the gauntlet to a refreshed Edinburgh side six days from the club's historic Heineken Cup semi-final with a place in the European team the ultimate reward for stand-out performers.

Wales is typically a tough hunting ground for the capital club, with Bradley's men beating the Blues only once in their last seven outings.

That victory was the most recent, however, and inspired a European Cup run which saw them top the group and march on to next week's match in the penultimate round.

“This is where we want to be as a club and, as players, those picked to play Cardiff this weekend know that they could be one performance away from playing a part in a landmark day in the club's history in the Heineken Cup semi-final and, potentially, the final, in three weeks' time,” said Bradley.

“Cardiff are a very strong team and our matches this season have been very close, so it's an excellent opportunity for our players to put their hands up for the Heineken Cup squad selection.

“With so much at stake for these players, they will be mentally primed for this clash..”

Full-back Chris Paterson is among those set to return to the front-line, while the club also welcomes the timely return of experienced front-line players James King (centre) and Steven Turnbull (lock), absent since January through groin and foot injuries respectively.
Sep Visser, who scored on his last appearance against Ulster at Ravenhill, and Jim Thompson, will take to the wings while half-backs Alex Black and Phil Godman have the chance to orchestrate the match.
John Houston, who started the crucial bonus point win over London Irish, returns to the fold to partner King in the centre.
A full front-row switch sees Kyle Traynor, Andrew Kelly and Jack Gilding pack down before the returning Turnbull and promising prospect Robert McAlpine, while Alan MacDonald and Struan Dewar are brought into a new-look back-row with Roddy Grant at number eight.

Meanwhile, Cardiff Blues have made six changes, as they bid farewell to a number of long-time servants.

It will no doubt be an emotional occasion being the final home match for Ben Blair, Casey Laulala, Martyn Williams, Maama Molitika, Gethin Jenkins, John Yapp, Richie Rees and Dan Parks, who are all in the 23 to face Edinburgh on Sunday.

In the backs the Blues welcome back Ben Blair who replaces Leigh Halfpenny who is out with a shoulder injury while at centre, Casey Laulala replaces Gavin Evans who moves to the bench. There is one other change with Tom James replacing Harry Robinson.

In the back-row Maama Molitika replaces Michael Paterson who is out with a shoulder injury. There are two changes in the front row with Scott Andrews returning from a knee injury and Gethin Jenkins from a shoulder injury. The pair replace John Yapp and Sam Hobbs, who both move to the bench.

“The last home game of the season can sometimes be a bittersweet occasion and I feel this will certainly be the case on Sunday,” said Cardiff Blues forwards coach Justin Burnell.

“Despite a number of players moving on, they will remain professional in their approach and like any other game, they will be determined to go out and give a good performance.”
“They are well aware this is their last game at home in a Blues shirt so their total focus is to do the fans proud and get the win for them.”

Form: Cardiff Blues have slipped to five straight defeats in all competitions, including reversals in their last two encounters at the City Stadium. The Blues have lost three of their last four games with Scottish opponents. Edinburgh's only victory in their last ten RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures was 26-23 at home to Scarlets on 30 March, whilst they have lost on their last ten visits to Wales since a trip to Scarlets on 4 December 2009. Edinburgh's only victory over the Blues in their last seven clashes in all competitions was 19-12 in the European Cup at Murrayfield on 16 December. Edinburgh's most recent win on Cardiff soil was 22-21 at the City Stadium on 4 September 2009.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Cardiff Blues:15 Ben Blair, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 Tom James, 10 Ceri Sweeney, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Luke Hamilton, 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Maama Molitika, 5 James Down, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Marc Breeze, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 John Yapp, 18 Sam Hobbs, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Richie Rees, 22 Dan Parks, 23 Gavin Evans

Edinburgh: 15 Chris Paterson, 14 Sep Visser, 13 James King, 12 John Houston, 11 Jim Thompson, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Alex Black, 8 Roddy Grant (c), 7 Struan Dewar, 6 Alan MacDonald, 5 Steven Turnbull, 4 Robert McAlpine, 3 Jack Gilding, 2 Andrew Kelly, 1 Kyle Traynor.
Replacements: 16 Alun Walker, 17 Robin Hislop, 18 Lewis Niven, 19 Murray Douglas, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Chris Leck, 22 Harry Leonard, 23 Dougie Fife.

Date: Sunday, April 22
Venue: Cardiff City Stadium
Kick-off: 14.05
Referee: Dudley Phillips