Preview: Ospreys v Blues

Date published: October 10 2014

Geraint Walsh will make his full Cardiff Blues debut while Adam Jones returns to his former region in Sunday’s Welsh derby at Ospreys.

Geraint Walsh will make his full Cardiff Blues debut while Adam Jones returns to his former region in Sunday’s Welsh derby against Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium.

Walsh starts on the wing as Blues Director of Rugby Mark Hammett makes four changes to the side that stormed back to claim a draw against Connacht last Friday.

Summer recruit Walsh is the only change to the back line while three changes in the pack include Wales international tighthead prop Jones making a first playing return to the region where he successfully played for over a decade.

Flanker Josh Turnbull is recalled in the back row while the final change sees Josh Navidi play at Number Eight.

Scrum-half Lloyd Williams is named among a powerful replacements bench that includes Macauley Cook and Sam Hobbs who both scored last week in Ireland.

Boss Mark Hammett insists his Cardiff Blues will be ready for the red-hot atmosphere of derby day and must focus on their own performance to secure a second win of the league season.

“It’s a derby game so there will be good line-ups and big battles right across the field,” he said.

“The big thing is to not be too pre-occupied about the opposition. We need to get really focussed on what we are doing and what we are trying to take into the game and do right. That is our best chance of performing.”

Prop Jones, who spent over a decade at Ospreys winning four league titles, is relishing a playing return to his former region and knows the size of the task that Blues face.

“We need to raise our game from where we have been so far this season,” he said.

“Ospreys lost a lot of players in the summer but their recruitment has been good and the youngsters are coming through.

“There is a strong game plan at Ospreys and it’s a tough thing to play against and they’re a hard side to beat.

“We want to go down to Swansea and get a result so it should be a huge game. We’re all excited about it and our first derby of the Guinness PRO12 season.”

Meanwhile, Ospreys Head Coach Steve Tandy commented that “Derby day at the Liberty Stadium is always something special.”

“Make no mistake about it, the Blues will come here looking for the win and believing that they can do it,” said Tandy.

“There’s real quality throughout their squad, players who can hurt teams from anywhere, so we know that we’ll have to be switched on from the first whistle and be at our very best.

“Results so far this season have been good, but they won’t mean anything once the two teams cross the line at 4.00pm on Sunday. We’ve got to make sure that our preparation is good, that we accurate in everything we do, we know our roles and are relentless from the first second to last. If we control the things that we can, then we’ll be in with a chance. Fall down in any of those areas and it’ll be a different story.

“It looks like there’ll be a very good crowd there so we can expect a good atmosphere. Our supporters have been brilliant this season, the way they’ve got behind the team, and I wouldn’t expect it to be any different on Sunday.

“Derby matches come with all the additional baggage for supporters and that’ll make a huge difference to them. For the team though, it’s got to be treated in exactly the same way as any other match, and although they will feed off the atmosphere, they have to be completely focused on the job in hand.”

Form: Like Glasgow, Ospreys have a perfect played five, won five record in the Guinness PRO12 this season, although the Welshmen have not let any opponent tally more than 15 points against them in any of those encounters. Ospreys have won their last five fixtures at Liberty Stadium since Munster won there in round 15 last season. Ospreys have not been defeated by a fellow Welsh region in the PRO12 whilst Steve Tandy has been in charge – their last such defeat was 20-21 to the Dragons in Newport in January 2012. Cardiff Blues have not been victorious since the opening weekend against Zebre in Parma, although the capital side did at least draw 24-all with Connacht in Galway last Friday. The Blues only PRO12 victory at the home of a fellow Welsh region in their last dozen encounters came at the Dragons in September 2012. Ospreys have not been defeated by the Blues in the tournament since they visited Cardiff City Stadium on New Year’s Eve 2010 whilst Blues only previous PRO12 win at Liberty Stadium came on their first ever visit in December 2005.

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Andrew Bishop, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Dan Baker, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 James King, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Lloyd Peers, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Joe Bearman, 20 Morgan Allen, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Tom Grabham.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Adam Thomas, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Geraint Walsh, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Josh Navidi, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Matthew Rees (c), 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Manoa Vosawai, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 Dan Fish

Date: Sunday, October 12
Venue: Liberty Stadium
Kickoff: 16:00 local (15:00 GMT)
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Sean Brickell (Wales), Gwyn Morris (Wales)
TMO: Derek Bevan (Wales)