European Challenge Cup: Pau v Cardiff Blues (Sat)


Cardiff Blues wing Alex Cuthbert drops to the bench
European Rugby Challenge Cup: Pau v Cardiff Blues
Date: Saturday, 14 January Venue: Stade du Hameau, Pau Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Wales AM & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live scores online

Cardiff Blues wing Alex Cuthbert drops to the bench for Saturday’s European Rugby Challenge Cup trip to French Top 14 side Pau.

Steven Shingler moves to centre with Nicky Robinson coming in at 10 as the Blues chase a vital win.

Danny Wilson’s side need to win to challenge for a quarter-final place in the competition.

Their defeat by Bath in December cost them top place in the pool but they can turn their form around with victory.

“If we win two games we give ourselves a very strong chance to be in the quarter-final” said coach Danny Wilson.

“We certainly have had some good results in this competition and it gives us a bit of a break from the league,” said Wilson.

“But we still have the same issues that we have in the other competition which is trying to manage a squad with a lot of injury problems.”

Cardiff Blues have captain Gethin Jenkins, flanker Josh Turnbull and full-back Dan Fish on the long-term injury list, while lock George Earle is suspended.

Wales fly-half Gareth Anscombe could make a come-back late in January, while wing Tom James has resumed fitness training after a spell in hospital through illness.

“The surface is one of the biggest differences, they have quite a soft surface, it’ll be quite heavy versus the speed of the track we play at” said Wilson.

“The hostile environment in terms of the French crowd, that gives a different environment for our players to experience but what an exciting one.”

Pau are currently 11th in the Top 14 but are 14 points clear of the relegation zone, with seven wins from 15 league games.

Pau: Charly Malie, Louis Dupichot, Pierre Dupouy, Watisoni Votu, Mosese Ratuvou; Brandon Fajardo, Julien Tomas; Julien Jacquot, Quentin Lespiaucq Brettes, Malik Hamadache, Masalosalo Tutaia, Daniel Ramsay, Ben Mowen, Sean Dougall, Paddy Butler.

Replacements: Lucas Rey, Jérémy Hurou, Sylvain Charlet, Baptiste Pesenti, Giovanni Habel Kuffner, Taniela Moa Teutau, Marvin Lestremeau, Romain Buros.

Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan; Cory Allen, Willis Halaholo, Steven Shingler, Rhun Williams; Nicky Robinson, Tomos Williams; Corey Domachowski, Matthew Rees, Tau Filise, Jarrad Hoeata, James Down, Macauley Cook, Sam Warburton, Josh Navidi.

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Anton Peikrishvili, Scott Andrews, Seb Davies, Cam Dolan, Lloyd Williams, Garyn Smith, Alex Cuthbert.

Referee: Gary Conway

Assistant referees: Mark Patton, Karol Collins (all IRFU)

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