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Preview: Cardiff Blues v Sale

18th January 2013 07:32

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Leigh Halfpenny Cardiff Blues

Full-back: Leigh Halfpenny

The battle to avoid the Pool 6 wooden spoon sees Cardiff Blues host Sale in the Heineken Cup on Saturday.

The Blues have made two changes to the side that picked up a four-try bonus point in Toulon.

There is one change in the backs with Lloyd Williams returning from suspension to start at scrum-half, Lewis Jones moves to the bench. In the forwards Scott Andrews starts in place of Benoit Bourrust who moves to the bench.

Cardiff Arms Park ground staff have been working hard to prepare the pitch with the RAF on standby to help clear the pitch of any overnight snow.

"Our Heineken Cup campaign started in Sale and it was a ridiculous game to lose. We played well for sixty minutes, with a great team performance but didn't get the result we wanted," said director of rugby Phil Davies ahead of the game.

"Our position in the group obviously isn't where we want to be. We want to be making the quarter-finals and in a couple of years time challenging in the competition. At the moment, the reality is that we are a young side and we are gaining valuable experience in all competitions.

"Saturday's match is a match we want to win for our supporters. Every time we put the shirt on, especially at the Arms Park, it's our responsibility. We want to try and create our own legacy now, making sure we build on all the great work some of the players and coaches have done here in the past. There is always something to every game we play and the players share that sentiment."

Meanwhile, Sale have dropped fly-half Danny Cipriani to the bench and instead go with Rob Miller at number ten, as Cameron Shepherd continues in the full-back position.

Sharks have been preparing for this game using the 3G pitches at the Salford City Stadium as the pitches at their Carrington training base are frozen solid. Their opponents on Saturday are enduring a long losing run in the Heineken Cup having lost their last six.

This will be the sixth meeting between the sides in the Heineken Cup with the home side winning every game. Earlier this season, Sharks looked out of it at half time but an inspired performance by substitute Cipriani saw Sharks win 34-33. A win would mean the Welsh region keeping their place in the top six of the tournament's seedings for 2013/14's draw.

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Owen Williams, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Harry Robinson, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Andries Pretorius, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 James Down, 4 Lou Reed, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Rhys Williams, 1 Sam Hobbs.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Nathan Trevett, 18 Benoit Bourrust, 19 Robin Copeland, 20 Michael Paterson, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Dafydd Hewitt.

Sale: 15 Cameron Shepherd, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Jordan Davies, 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Charlie Amesbury, 10 Rob Miller, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Richie Vernon, 7 David Seymour, 6 James Doyle, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Tom Holmes, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Aston Croall.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Eifion Lewis-Roberts, 19 Richie Gray, 20 Tom Cruse, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Mark Cueto.

Date: Saturday, 19 January
Venue: Cardiff Arms Park
Kick-off: 15:40
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Eddie Hogan-O'Connell (Ireland), Will O'Connor (Ireland)
Assessor: Andy Clift (Scotland)

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