Planet Rugby

Preview: Cardiff Blues v Toulon

18th October 2013 10:59

Share:

Matt Giteau C of Toulon is held up by Leigh Halfpenny R of Cardiff Blues

Dangerman: Matt Giteau

Cardiff Blues face a mammoth task in overturning reigning Heineken Cup champions in their Pool 2 encounter at the Arms Park on Saturday.

Despite being able to call upon an abundance of British and Irish Lions tourists, including captain Sam Warburton, Alex Cuthbert and man-of-the-series Leigh Halfpenny, the Blues have struggled in their early Pro12 fixtures, with their only two victories coming over strugglers Connacht and Edinburgh at home.

Their opening European clash with Exeter Chiefs last Saturday ended in a humiliating 44-29 defeat, with the Chiefs securing a try bonus point within half an hour at Sandy Park.

The recently-returned Lions must get up to speed if the Blues are to improve upon their poor form across the board so far, and attain the measure of success so imminently achievable with such high-calibre players among their ranks.

Toulon, simply put, have an outrageous wealth of talent, experience and depth to their squad. Any backline including Jonny Wilkinson, Matt Giteau and Maxime Mermoz is likely to score tries, and that is exactly what the champions did in their opening Heineken Cup fixture.

The Top14 giants blitzed Glasgow in forty minutes of scintillating rugby. Not only that, but they dominated heavily at the scrum - an area in which the Scots are generally solid, and the Blues are less so.

Though the Warriors mounted something of a comeback in the second period, Toulon still cantered to an eventual 51-28 victory. Worrying signs for a Cardiff side so comprehensively defeated by the Chiefs.

One glimmer of hope for the Welsh outfit can be glimpsed in Toulon's typically French and somewhat flaky away form. For all their illustrious names, their only Top 14 triumph on the road came against basement boys Biarritz, and suffered defeats to newly-promoted Oyonnax, Grenoble and Castres.

The champions will look to strengthen their grip on the pool with another victory, and while the Blues are capable of challenging them at the Arms Park, their poor form suggests they will struggle to do so.

Robin Copeland has been named at number eight in place of Andries Pretorius for the Blues, whilst the other change to the team sees talented centre Owen Williams recalled to partner Cory Allen in midfield for the Blues.

Meanwhile for Toulon, Jonny Wilkinson starts and is captain despite being a doubt earlier in the week regarding a hand injury.

Steffon Armitage starts at openside flanker in place of Joe Van Niekerk.

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Owen Williams, 12 Cory Allen, 11 Harry Robinson, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Matthew Rees (capt), 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Marc Breeze, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Benoit Bourrust, 19 Lou Reed, 20 Rory Watts-Jones, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 Richard Smith

Toulon: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Maxime Mermoz, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Rudi Wulf, 10 Jonny Wilkinson (capt), 9 Frederic Michalak, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Juan Fernandez Lobbe, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Jean-Charles Orioli, 1 Xavier Chiocci.
Replacements: 16 Benjamin Noirot, 17 Emmanuel Felsina, 18 Carl Hayman, 19 Juan Smith, 20 Virgile Bruni, 21 Drew Mitchell, 22 Alexis Palisson, 23 Jocelino Suta.

Date: Saturday, October 19
Venue: Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff
Kick-off: 13:35 BST (12.35 GMT)
Referee: JP Doyle

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster vs SaracensMunster vs Saracens Preview
Saturday , October 25
Ulster vs Toulon13:00
Scarlets vs Leicester19:45
Bath vs Toulouse15:15
Montpellier vs Glasgow17:15
Northampton vs Ospreys17:15
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks15:15
Castres vs Leinster13:00
Wasps vs Harlequins17:15
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 9217:15
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Friday , October 24
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Brive vs Zebre18:30
Grenoble vs London IrishGrenoble vs London Irish Preview
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Newcastle19:30
Edinburgh vs LOU Rugby19:45
Saturday , October 25
Bucuresti vs Stade Francais14:00
Rovigo vs Cardiff Blues14:00
Exeter vs Connacht15:00
Oyonnax vs Gloucester19:45
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Currie Cup
Saturday , October 25
Western Province vs Lions17:00
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Saturday , October 25
Taranaki vs Tasman19:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh 20 - 52 Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
International Match
Saturday , October 18
Australia 28 - 29 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More International Match results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
Saracens 30 - 23 Clermont AuvergneSaracens vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Racing Metro 92 20 - 11 NorthamptonRacing Metro 92 vs Northampton Report
Glasgow 37 - 10 BathGlasgow vs Bath Report
Leicester 25 - 18 UlsterLeicester vs Ulster Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
LOU Rugby 28 - 18 London WelshLOU Rugby vs London Welsh Report
Zebre 24 - 33 Oyonnax
Cardiff Blues 37 - 14 Grenoble
Stade Francais 22 - 38 Newport Gwent D'gons
Bayonne 30 - 24 Exeter
Connacht 48 - 12 La Rochelle
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Lions 50 - 20 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Western Province 31 - 23 Blue BullsWestern Province vs Blue Bulls Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Taranaki 49 - 30 AucklandTaranaki vs Auckland Report
Manawatu 23 - 18 Southland
Tasman 26 - 6 CanterburyTasman vs Canterbury Report
More ITM Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 17
Harlequins 25 - 9 CastresHarlequins vs Castres Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Bordeaux-Begles 13 - 15 EdinburghBordeaux-Begles vs Edinburgh Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615