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Cardiff Blues make two changes for Scarlets

Guinness PRO14 Rugby Editor

30 Dec 2016

Taufa'ao Filise

Danny Wilson has made two changes to his Cardiff Blues team to face the Scarlets on New Year’s Day in the Guinness PRO12.

With Tom James and Blaine Scully both unavailable for selection, Rhun Williams has made a timely return to fitness to start on the left wing. In the pack, Taufa’ao Filise steps up from the replacements bench at tight-head prop.

The Blues slipped to a 26-15 defeat in the corresponding fixture at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park in October, but won at Parc y Scarlets last season and go into the Big Weekend encounter on the back of a Welsh derby victory over Newport Gwent Dragons.

Head coach Wilson believes his side can go into the clash with confidence but he knows the in-form Scarlets will present a tough assignment.

He said: “We won both Christmas derbies last season and it would be great to do it two years on the bounce.

“Parc y Scarlets is a very tough venue and they are a very tough side to play but we have come off the back of a win and a first-half performance which will give us a bit of confidence.

“Last season we had a good away win there but historically it is a tough place to go – the Scarlets have a passionate crowd and are a proud region.

“Derbies are about who wins the physical battle and last year we won that, and that led to a really big win for us. We will need to have that and more this time around.

“The Scarlets are in form at the moment, they’ve had a great run, including a big win against Toulon and have a squad full of quality so we will need to be right on top of our game to have a chance.”

While the Blues won on Boxing Day, the Scarlets saw a seven-match winning run in the PRO12 come to an end against the Ospreys a day later.

Wilson added: “Their results speak for themselves. They didn’t start particularly well but have picked up some really good form and some great wins.

“They will be hurting from losing a derby and will want to put that right against us. But we picked up a win and want to build on a good first-half performance and there’s no better place to do it than Parc y Scarlets.”

Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan; Alex Cuthbert, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Rhun Williams; Steve Shingler, Lloyd Williams; Rhys Gill, Kristian Dacey, Taufa’ao Filise, Macauley Cook, James Down, Josh Navidi, Sam Warburton (capt), Nick Williams

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Brad Thyer, Scott Andrews, Jarrad Hoeata, Ellis Jenkins, Tomos Williams, Nicky Robinson, Cory Allen.

The following players were unavailable for selection:

Lewis Jones
Dan Fish
Aled Summerhill
Gethin Jenkins
Gareth Anscombe
Josh Turnbull
Ethan Lewis
Dillon Lewis
Tom James
Blaine Scully
George Earle
Anton Peikrishvili