Cardiff Blues make six changes for Zebre showdown

Guinness PRO14 Rugby Editor
14 September 2018

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Cardiff Blues have made six changes for what has been billed a must-win match against Zebre in the Guinness PRO14 on Saturday night (7.35pm BST).

Josh Navidi

Following two agonising defeats to Leinster and Benetton Rugby in the closing stages, the Blues are determined to respond.

Head coach John Mulvihill has reshuffled his starting XV to ensure players are given opportunities but also that his side finish the encounter strongly with plenty of leaders on the pitch.

Three changes come in the pack with Dillon Lewis starting ahead of Dmitri Arhip, who drops to the replacements.

And there is a new look back-row with Josh Navidi at number eight and Olly Robinson, who captains the team, on the openside flank, with Nick Williams on the bench and Ellis Jenkins given a rest week.

In the backs there are three more changes with Garyn Smith handed his first competitive start of the season and half-backs Tomos Williams and Gareth Anscombe stepping up from the bench.

There are further changes among the replacements with former Wales Under-20s prop Rhys Carre set to make his PRO14 debut.

Mulvihill said: “Benetton was a tough one to swallow, we were in front for most of the game and to finish off like we did we were not happy. It’s not the end of the world but it’s still a game that we should have won.

“We have to learn from those mistakes and get a performance this weekend. There are no excuses we have to win.

“Everyone is still really positive, there are areas we need to tighten up but the effort has been there so the performance will come.

“We have some more experienced players on the bench to come on and finish the game off for us. It is important to give players opportunity but it also means we can maintain that leadership and bring on players who can add a bit of a spark in attack and defence.”

Zebre kicked off their season with a convincing win at home against Southern Kings but crashed to defeat in Connacht last weekend.

They are renowned for their attacking style of rugby and Mulvihill expects them to be all guns blazing once against at Stadio Lanfranchi in Parma.

He added: “Zebre will bring a different kind of challenge. They won’t slow the game down, they will speed it up.

“They are a different beast at home and will be absolutely on fire. They will want to make it a sprint and we will need to be on our feet for that. Our defence needs to stand up.”

Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan; Jason Harries, Garyn Smith, Rey Lee-Lo, Owen Lane; Gareth Anscombe, Tomos Williams; Brad Thyer, Kristian Dacey, Dillon Lewis, George Earle, Rory Thornton, Josh Turnbull, Olly Robinson (capt), Josh Navidi

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Rhys Carre, Dmitri Arhip, Macauley Cook, Nick Williams, Lloyd Williams, Jarrod Evans, Harri Millard.

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