Preview: Cardiff Blues v Ospreys

Date published: April 24 2015

Prop star Gethin Jenkins returns to skipper Cardiff Blues as they tackle Ospreys in Judgement Day III at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

Wales international Jenkins is one of nine changes made by the coaching team at Blues as they look to impress in the derby clash at the national stadium that will be played out in front of a crowd close to 50,000 people.

Flying Argentine international duo Joaquin Tuculet and Lucas Amorosino make playing comebacks on the wings after spells out injured.

Rhys Patchell makes a welcome return at full-back while Gareth Anscombe makes a positional change to fly-half where he will form a half-back partnership with Lloyd Williams who also earns a call-up.

A new-look front row trio will see Jenkins pack down alongside Kristian Dacey and Craig Mitchell, who is in line for his first league appearance for Blues since late November.

Locks Chris Dicomidis and fit-again Filo Paulo are paired in the second row while Josh Turnbull is named in the back row.

"It’s going to be a great spectacle and big occasion at Judgement Day III," said Cardiff Blues Defence Coach Dale McIntosh.

"The table doesn’t lie and I have a lot of respect for Ospreys and the management. They are a very complete side that is well coached at the set piece and they play at a pace that is hard to control.

"We understand to get near them and compete we have to raise our game and base our game around tenacity and physicality. We also have to maintain our discipline, because that’s let us down on occasion, because they have pace and a fluid game.

"The players are in the mood and they have trained well," he added.

"Gethin (Jenkins) is busting for a game and we need our big players on form and supported by the rest of the boys.

We have a number of players returning from injury and it’s important we see players like Craig Mitchell back in league action as we look ahead to next season and the future."

Meanwhile, Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy is was essential that his team didn't get distracted by the sideshow.

"We have to be 100 per cent focused on ourselves and on controlling all the factors we can around the match to ensure we can work towards the outcome we need on the day," said Tandy.

"It’s a derby match and there’s a lot of focus on the rivalry and everything but in reality it’s just another game, no more or less important than any of the others we still have to play.

"We’ve got three more games in the regular season and we are the only Welsh side still in play-off contention, having secured our Champions Cup slot for next season already, and we can be pretty pleased about that. However, we mustn’t settle for that, we have to keep on going, pursuing excellence, and looking to take our season through to the end of May.

"We’re in control of our own fate and that’s pretty much what we would have asked for last August before a ball was kicked. Our preparation has to be spot on in everything we do between now and the end of the season now, to make sure that the hard work and the effort doesn’t go to waste.

"Preparation has to be spot on now, the boys have to be diligent and make sure they know their roles, and we have to be clinical in everything that we do. It’s not just about 2.30pm on Saturday. If we are sloppy in training, if we aren’t certain about what we are doing, or if we don’t focus properly on the job, then it feeds through into game day.

"That can’t be allowed to happen as if we are just one or two per cent off then it’ll show on the pitch. It’s going to be a good test of where we are at the moment as a team.”

Form: Cardiff Blues have won just two of their last seven Guinness PRO12 encounters – over Edinburgh and Connacht at the Arms Park in March. This is the Blues fourth PRO12 encounter at Millennium Stadium with the only loss being to Ospreys on “Judgement Day” two years ago. Ospreys have won their last three Guinness PRO12 matches and have not been defeated in the tournament since a trip to the table-topping Warriors in round 15. Osprey have made four previous visits to Millennium Stadium in all competitions and won them all – two in semi-finals of the Anglo-Welsh Cup in 2007 and 2008, and their “Judgement Day” encounter for the past two years. Ospreys have won their last seven encounters with The Blues in the Guinness PRO12 since the capital side’s 27-25 victory at the Cardiff City Stadium on New Year’s Eve 2010. The two regions have met twice before at Millennium Stadium with Ospreys victorious 27-10 in the Anglo-Welsh Cups semi final in March 2007, and 23-16 at “Judgement Day” six years later.

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Rhys Patchell, 14 Lucas Amorosino, 13 Tom Isaacs, 12 Garyn Smith, 11 Joaquin Tuculet, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Josh Navidi, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Chris Dicomidis, 3 Craig Mitchell, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Gethin Jenkins (c).
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Jarrad Hoeata, 20 Macauley Cook, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 Dan Fish

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Tom Grabham, 13 Ben John, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Dan Baker, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Lloyd Peers, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 Tyler Ardron, 20 James King, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Jonathan Spratt.

Date: Saturday, 25 April
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 14.30 BST (13.30 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens
Assistant Referees: Rhys Thomas, Gwyn Morris
TMO: Gareth Simmonds