Planet Rugby

Preview: Cardiff Blues v Exeter

17th January 2014 09:27

Share:

ROBIN COPELAND CARDIFF

Hard man top stop: Robin Copeland

Flanker Ellis Jenkins will make his first-ever Heineken Cup start as Cardiff Blues face Exeter Chiefs in a huge must-win European clash at Arms Park on Saturday.

Former Wales U20 captain Jenkins is one of four changes for Blues as they hunt a crucial win in the final game in Pool 2 to propel them into the last eight of European rugby this season.

Director of Rugby Phil Davies hands the captaincy to prop Sam Hobbs, with Wales international Gethin Jenkins (knee) ruled out.

Hobbs will pack down alongside hooker Kristian Dacey who has recovered from injury to be named in the starting line-up just days after agreeing a new long-term contract at Blues.

The final change to the team is a recall for experienced midfielder Dafydd Hewitt at inside centre where he will partner Gavin Evans.

"We've put ourselves in a strong position after five tough pool games and great credit must go to the players for some strong performances that have led us to this position," said Davies.

"However, the biggest challenge for the squad is in front of us this against Exeter. Only a big performance will be good enough to put us into the quarter-finals of Europe.

"Exeter Chiefs are a well organised side and have a talented squad that has been together as a unit for a long time. Rob Baxter will have his team highly motivated to finish the campaign strongly."

Meanwhile Exeter boss Rob Baxter has again tinkered with his squad, recalling Jack Yeandle, Dean Mumm, Dave Ewers and Don Armand to the pack.

Amongst the backs, Gareth Steenson comes in at fly-half meaning Henry Slade switches to the centre alongside Sam Hill. On the bench, former Cardiff players Ben White and Ceri Sweeney are included as is Jason Shoemark and James Phillips, the latter of whom is back following a short loan spell with the Cornish Pirates.

At Sandy Park in October, Baxter's men produced a devastating first 40 minutes to blow aside the Welsh region. Since that performance, Europe hasn't gone quite to plan for the Chiefs who have suffered double losses against both Glasgow Warriors and reigning champions Toulon.

"One of the big differences this year is that we have now had extra players who have come through full Heineken Cup campaigns. Guys like Jack Nowell and Dave Ewers, they hadn't done that last year. Also people like Damian Welch, he's had a full year; Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ben Moon (pictured), they've experienced playing at this level, so if you work your way through the team, we now have guys who have had some big game experience and they'll only get better for that."

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Gavin Evans, 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 Chris Czekaj, 10 Gareth Davies, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Ellis Jenkins, 6 Macauley Cook, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Chris Dicomidis, 3 Benoit Bourrust, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Sam Hobbs (c).
Replacements: 16 Marc Breeze, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 James Down, 20 Rory Watts-Jones, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Dan Fish, 23 Richard Smith

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 13 Sam Hill, 12 Henry Slade, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm (capt), 3 Alex Brown, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Carl Rimmer.
Replacements: 16 Greg Bateman, 17 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Ben White, 20 James Phillips, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Jason Shoemark.

Date: Saturday, January 18
Kick-off: 15:40 GMT
Venue: Cardiff Arms Park
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Leo Colgan (Ireland), Olly Hodges (Ireland)
Television match official: Kevin Beggs (Ireland)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester vs Exeter19:45
Saturday , September 20
Sale vs London Welsh14:00
London Irish vs Saracens15:00
Harlequins vs Wasps15:00
Bath vs Leicester15:15
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle vs Northampton14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 19
Munster vs Zebre19:30
Cardiff Blues vs Ulster19:35
Connacht vs Leinster19:35
Saturday , September 20
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Glasgow14:40
Scarlets vs Benetton Treviso18:00
Sunday , September 21
Ospreys vs Edinburgh16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 19
Brive vs ToulonBrive vs Toulon Preview
Saturday , September 20
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulouse18:00
La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Clermont Auvergne vs Lyon18:00
Castres vs Oyonnax18:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:00
Montpellier vs Stade Francais18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 19
Lions vs Pumas19:10
Saturday , September 20
Western Province vs Griquas15:00
Blue Bulls vs Sharks17:05
Eastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Thursday , September 18
Northland vs TaranakiNorthland vs Taranaki Preview
Friday , September 19
Counties Manukau vs CanterburyCounties Manukau vs Canterbury Preview
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Wednesday, September 17
Southland 14 - 38 TasmanSouthland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 14
Wasps 20 - 16 NorthamptonWasps vs Northampton Report
Newcastle 18 - 20 London IrishNewcastle vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 12 - 33 GlasgowCardiff Blues vs Glasgow Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 27 - 21 MontpellierBordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
ITM Cup
Waikato 26 - 21 Counties ManukauWaikato vs Counties Manukau Report
Hawkes Bay 41 - 0 Otago
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 13
Gloucester 34 - 27 Sale SharksGloucester vs Sale Sharks Report
Bath 53 - 26 London WelshBath vs London Welsh Report
Exeter 20 - 24 LeicesterExeter vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
New Zealand 14 - 10 South AfricaNew Zealand vs South Africa Report
Australia 32 - 25 ArgentinaAustralia vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 42 - 12 ScarletsLeinster vs Scarlets Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulouse 9 - 13 Clermont AuvergneToulouse vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 23 - 6 Brive
Oyonnax 40 - 27 Grenoble
Racing Metro Paris 28 - 11 LyonRacing Metro Paris vs Lyon Report
Toulon 24 - 28 Stade FrancaisToulon vs Stade Francais Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 31 - 27 PumasGriquas vs Pumas Report
Lions 35 - 33 Western ProvinceLions vs Western Province Report
Cheetahs 30 - 30 SharksCheetahs vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Bay Of Plenty 12 - 27 AucklandBay Of Plenty vs Auckland Report
Southland 36 - 34 Northland
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 12
Harlequins 0 - 39 SaracensHarlequins vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Benetton Treviso 10 - 21 MunsterBenetton Treviso vs Munster Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens29
2Bath29
3Leicester Tigers29
4Exeter26
5Northampton26