Preview: Cardiff Blues v Leicester

Date published: February 6 2015

Cardiff Blues have made five changes to their starting line-up for Saturday’s make-or-break LV=Cup shootout with Leicester Tigers at Cardiff Arms Park.

Blues currently top Pool 2 with an undefeated record after victories over Newcastle Falcons, Scarlets and Wasps and victory on home soil this weekend will guarantee them a semi-final spot.

However, Leicester Tigers also top their pool and arrive in Cardiff also determined to cement a place in the final four.

Blues make just one change in the pack as Lou Reed is recalled in the second row to partner Miles Normandale, who this week agreed a new two-year contract at the region.

A new-look half back pairing will see Gareth Davies and Tavis Knoyle combine.

Geraint Walsh is named at full back, with Argentine Joaquin Tuculet moving into the centre to join forces with Adam Thomas. The final change sees a call-up for winger Owen Jenkins.

There are several changes to the replacements bench with Ethan Lewis, Taufa’ao Filise, Lloyd Williams, Craig Lodge and Jack Phillips ready to make an impression.

Skills Coach Lee Jarvis said: “Ultimately you play the game to challenge for trophies; it’s what you want as players and coaches. We have the opportunity to do just that by booking a place in the semi-finals of the LV=Cup.

“Leicester will also want a home semi-final so we’ve got to be at our very best and go all out for the win. It’s all set up to be a great game and hopefully we will have a big crowd in to support the team.”

Meanwhile, Sebastian de Chaves will captain Leicester Tigers.

Second-rower de Chaves is part of a forward pack showing three changes to the starting line-up from last week’s Round 3 win over Northampton Saints.

Neil Briggs comes in at hooker, Jack Whetton gains his first start in the second row and Harry Thacker starts at openside in place of Robert Barbieri who is on international duty with Italy at the start of the Six Nations Championship.

David Mele comes in at scrum-half in the only change to the backline, with Sam Harrison among the replacements.

Both teams go into Saturday’s game with three wins from three games so far and chasing a place in the semi-finals. Tigers need at least a point to finish top of Pool 3, while an away win would secure home advantage in the last four.

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Geraint Walsh, 14 Owen Jenkins, 13 Joaquin Tuculet, 12 Adam Thomas, 11 Lucas Amorosino, 10 Gareth Davies, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 8 James Sheekey, 7 Ellis Jenkins (c), 6 Macauley Cook, 5 Lou Reed, 4 Miles Normandale, 3 Craig Mitchell, 2 Rhys Williams, 1 Thomas Davies.
Replacements: 16 Ethan Lewis, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Taufa’ao Filise, 19 Ben Roach, 20 Craig Lodge, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Jack Phillips

Leicester Tigers: 15 Tommy Bell, 14 Niall Morris , 13 George Catchpole, 12 Jack Roberts, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Owen Williams, 9 David Mele, 8 Laurence Pearce, 7 Harry Thacker, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Sebastian De Chaves (c), 4 Jack Whetton, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Michele Rizzo.
Replacements: 16 George Nairn, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Logovi’i Mulipola, 19 Greg Peterson, 20 Tom Price, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Matt Smith, 23 Terrence Hepetema.

Date: Saturday, February 7
Venue: Cardiff Arms Park.
Kick-off: 14.30 GMT