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Cardiff Blues

Cardiff Blues

Preview: Cardiff Blues v Racing-Métro

20th January 2012 11:53

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Cardiff v Edinburgh Casey Laulala

Exit rumour: Casey Laulala

Gavin Henson has been left out of the Blues squad for their key Heineken Cup meeting with Racing Métro at Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday.

Gavin Evans comes in for Henson at inside centre and one change in the forwards sees Scott Andrews coming in at tighthead for Fau Filise, who has been ruled out with a shoulder injury.

Tom James is on the bench in place of Richard Mustoe and Sam Hobbs comes in as cover.

The Blues and Edinburgh are level on 17 points in Pool 2 but if things remain level on match points after the end of the group stages, the Blues will top the pool due to their superior head to head record between the teams, with the Blues up 5-4 thanks to their losing bonus point at Murrayfield.

The maximum either team can get in the pool is 22 points, however, 21 points maybe enough for both teams to qualify as a best placed runners up. With it being the last pool match played over the weekend both teams will know exactly what they need to reach the knockouts.

Speaking ahead of the match, backs coach Gareth Baber first reflected on the win in Paris.

"No team likes being beaten at home and the next time you get to play the opposing team it's a great opportunity, so I'm sure Racing Metro will be looking to get one over on us," he said.

"We are mindful of what they will bring, however, we have to back ourselves to get the victory.

"Our first thoughts are to keep our focus and a winning mentality. We need to get the win and see where we are at the end of it. It's no good talking about winning bonus points because it's easy to say what you're going to do before the game but things change during the match.

"However, we are fortunate to have the quality players within this group that are able to adapt to the situation in the game and make it count. Rugby is about the winning and sometimes when you produce a winning performance you get maximum points at the end of it."

Meanwhile, Racing will be missing Juan Martin Hernandez from their fly-half position so Jonathan Wisniewski comes in alongside Sebastien Descons. Hernandez out for up to three weeks with a thigh injury picked up in last week's painful defeat to Edinburgh.

Elsewhere and Josh Matavesi, Henry Chavancy, Sereli Bobo all come in while there's a new-look front-row as Benjamin Sa, Benjamin Noirot and Mikaele Tuugahala all start.

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Chris Czekaj, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Xavier Rush, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Michael Paterson, 5 Paul Tito, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 T Rhys Thomas, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Tyrrell, 17 John Yapp, 18 Sam Hobbs, 19 Maama Molitika, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Richie Rees, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Tom James.

Racing Métro 92: 15 Josh Matavesi, 14 Henry Chavancy, 13 Frans Steyn, 12 Fabrice Estebanez, 11 Sereli Bobo, 10 Jonathan Wisniewski, 9 Sebastien Descons, 8 Sebastien Chabal. 7 Antoine Batut, 6 John Leo'o, 5 Francois van der Merwe, 4 Karim Ghezal, 3 Benjamin Sa, 2 Benjamin Noirot, 1 Mikaele Tuugahala.
Replacements: 16 Gregory Arganese, 17 Julien Brugnaut, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Jone Qovu Nailiko, 20 Mathieu Loree, 21 Juan Imhoff, 22 Remi Vaquiin, 23 Jacques Cronje.

Date: Sunday, January 22
Kick-off: 15:15
Venue: Cardiff City Stadium
Referee: Andrew Small (England)
Assistant referees: Ian Tempest (England), Peter Huckle (England)
Television match official: David Mathews (England)

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