Preview – Cardiff Blues v Ospreys

David Young has selected a team that sees Welsh internationals Tom Shanklin and Jamie Robinson start in the centre for Saturday’s EDF Energy Cup semi-final match.

The Blues however were dealt a blow with the news that Gethin Jenkins will not be available for selection after picking up a shoulder injury in last Saturday’s Wales v England match.

The injury is expected to keep him out of action for up to two to three weeks.

The two teams have already met twice this season, with the Ospreys clinching one in the final minute at the Liberty Stadium in September, and the Blues winning but losing Martyn Williams to a red card in a stormy encounter in December.

Then there is the likely move of Blues scrum-half Mike Phillips to the Ospreys at the end of this season, which has caused a rumoured rift between the two regions.

It’s a great game against our local rivals,” said captain Xavier Rush to the BBC.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a grudge match, but we’re both out to get the upper hand.”

Meanwhile, the Ospreys also field returning Wales internationals from last week’s win over England, with Shane Williams, James Hook, Ryan Jones, Alun Wyn-Jones, and Duncan Jones all taking their places in the team.

There’s always an edge when the Welsh regions meet in local derbies and the two encounters this year have been very intense,” said Ospreys captain Duncan Jones, also the the BBC.

“If it’s called a grudge match and that brings a full house to the Millennium Stadium – that’s fine with me!

“But as players we just want to focus on a great occasion and enjoy it, it’s a first chance to play at the national stadium as a region.”

Ospreys coach Lyn Jones was more placid in his appraisal of the build-up and the challenge ahead on Thursday.

“This will be a well contested game between two evenly balanced sides,” he said.

“The Blues have proven quality and experience across the park, whereas we are a young team with undoubted potential.

“They have caused us problems in our last four fixtures and have shown themselves to be a well-coached and organised outfit.

“If we are to be successful on Saturday the key will be to focus on our own game plan and to not allow them to dictate the structure of the match.

“They have strength throughout their side and you cannot highlight or target individuals when you come up against a side with quality in so many key areas.”

Cardiff Blues: 15 Ben Blair, 14 Tom James, 13 Jamie Robinson, 12 Tom Shanklin, 11 Chris Czekaj, 10 Nicky Robinson, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Xavier Rush (c), 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Scott Morgan, 5 Robert Sidoli, 4 Deiniol Jones, 3 Gary Powell, 2 T Rhys Thomas, 1 Taufa’ao Filise.
Replacements: 16 Scott Roberts, 17 Gareth Williams, 18 Bradley Davies, 19 Mark Lewis, 20 Wayne Evans, 21 Nick Macleod, 22 Marc Stcherbina.

Ospreys: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Shane Williams, 13 Sonny Parker, 12 Andrew Bishop, 11 Nikki Walker, 10 James Hook, 9 Justin Marshall, 8 Filogia Tiatia, 7 Jonathan Thomas, 6 Ryan Jones, 5 Alun Wyn-Jones, 4 Brent Cockbain, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Huw Bennett, 1 Duncan Jones (c).
Replacements: 16 Barry Williams, 17 Paul James, 18 Andrew Lloyd, 19 Richard Pugh, 20 Shaun Connor, 21 Jason Spice, 22 Stefan Terblanche.

Date: Saturday, March 24
Kick-off: 17:15 GMT
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Touch judges: Chris White (England), Paul Dix (England)
Television match official: Graham Hughes (England)


365 Digital

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