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Cardiff Blues & Ospreys set for Most Dramatic Judgement Day Ever

Avatar Rich Dore 26 Apr 2019

It’s all on the line on Judgement Day as Cardiff Blues go toe-to-toe with Ospreys in the cathedral of Welsh Rugby – Cardiff’s Principality Stadium – at tea-time on Saturday.

The Premier Sports cameras will be there to catch every second of the action in the Welsh capital in what promises to be a firecracker of a regional derby.

What’s at stake?

With just one point splitting the teams in fourth and fifth place in Conference A, the winner will advance to the Champions Cup Play-Off game and will be guaranteed to have home advantage as long as the game does not end in a draw. With all of this at stake as well as Welsh pride, this derby promises to be an excellent exhibition of all-on-the-line rugby.

Team news (Cardiff Blues): Nick Williams returns to captain Cardiff Blues as John Mulvihill makes four changes for Saturday’s Judgement Day clash. Williams missed recent defeats to Munster and Connacht due to injury but hands the Blues a significant boost for the all-important Guinness PRO14 encounter.

The other changes come in the backs with Lloyd Williams given the nod at scrum-half and Jarrod Evans at fly-half.

Gareth Anscombe, who joins the Ospreys next season, switches to full-back in what could be his final game for the Blues.

Elsewhere, Aled Summerhill is back to take his place on the wing in the place of Jason Harries.

Team news (Ospreys): James King will record the second quickest double century in Ospreys history when he leads the team out at Principality Stadium on Judgment Day.

The Australian-born former Mold RFC youngster is in line for his 200th game in an Ospreys shirt, 3466 days after his debut as a 19-year old replacement against Glasgow at the Liberty.

Of the five players who have already racked up 200 games for the Ospreys, only Dan Biggar has done it quicker, taking 162 days less.

Talking Points

Blues head coach Mulvihill said: “It is great to have Nick (Williams) back to lead the team on Saturday.

“He is such an important player to our group, who leads by example, galvanises the team and gets us over the gain-line.

“I have no doubts over Gareth’s (Anscombe’s) commitment. He is the consummate professional and is hugely competitive. He has had a great season here at Cardiff Blues and will want to go out on a high.

“It’s also great to see Dillon Lewis making his 50th appearance for the region. He’s had an outstanding season for both Cardiff Blues and Wales and is someone who I’ve got a lot of time for.”

Ospreys head coach Allen Clarke commented: “Our goal for the season has been to achieve Champions Cup qualification, Saturday provides another opportunity to keep that goal alive.

“Over the last number of months we’ve approached it one game at a time aiming to improve on a daily basis and delivering on the pitch. There’s a tremendous buzz in the camp coming off the back of three bonus point wins. Those performances have been forged on the back of a good balance between quality training and enjoyment.”

Key battle – Seb Davies v Alun Wyn Jones

Justin Tipuric leads Ospreys on Saturday and as always will lead from the front, while there is also another supreme driving force in the Ospreys engine room where Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones starts.

If you’re going to stop Ospreys then Jones’ effect on the game has to be in some way curtailed, and tasked with some of that responsibility will be Blues locks Seb Davies and Rory Thornton.

Jones against Davies promises to be an intriguing battle, with 22-year-old Davies finding his way into the Welsh setup with seven caps to his name thus far.

Did you know? Ospreys have won their last three matches since their defeat in Connacht in round 17 but have not won four in a row in the Championship for twelve months.

Key stat: Ospreys have lost just one of their last sixteen fixtures against the Blues in the Guinness PRO14: 17-35 at Principality Stadium on 15 April 2017.

Cardiff Blues: Gareth Anscombe; Owen Lane, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Aled Summerhill; Jarrod Evans, Lloyd Williams; Rhys Gill, Ethan Lewis, Dillon Lewis, Seb Davies, Rory Thornton, Josh Turnbull, Olly Robinson, Nick Williams (capt)

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Rhys Carre, Dmitri Arhip, George Earle, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Tomos Williams, Garyn Smith, Jason Harries

Ospreys: Dan Evans; George North, Cory Allen, Owen Watkin, Hanno Dirksen; Sam Davies, Aled Davies; Nicky Smith, Scott Baldwin, Tom Botha, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones, Olly Cracknell, Justin Tipuric (capt), James King

Replacements: Sam Parry, Rhodri Jones, Ma’afu Fia, Bradley Davies, Dan Lydiate, Matthew Aubrey, Luke Price, Keelan Giles

Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)

AR1: Craig Evans (WRU), AR2: Gwyn Morris (WRU)

TMO: Ian Davies (WRU)

TV: Live on Premier Sports 1, eir sport 2 & DAZN, Principality Stadium, Cardiff, KO 17:15

The Guinness PRO14 Final is one of the most entertaining games in the rugby calendar and takes place in Glasgow’s Celtic Park on May 25. Tickets start at just £25 for adults, £1 for kids. Visit www.pro14rugby.org/finaltickets

Historical Lineup Pre Opta (sfms data) - Preview - v2

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Davies holds his nerve as Ospreys claim vital Champions Cup play-off spot

Avatar Charlie Talbot-Smith 27 Apr 2019

Sam Davies slotted a late penalty as the Ospreys edged out the Cardiff Blues in the battle for bragging rights and fourth in Conference A of the Guinness PRO14.

The Blues started quickly, Gareth Anscombe scoring a fine try and amassing 18 points overall for the Blues against his future employers.

But Cory Allen burst over for the Ospreys before the break and Nicky Smith shortly after it to put them in control.

Yellow cards for Allen and Dan Evans hurts the Ospreys in the second half though, while Josh Turnbull went over for the Blues.

But in the battle of the kickers in the final quarter, it was Davies who held his nerve after dragging a drop goal attempt wide and the Ospreys had secured their Champions Cup play-off spot ahead of their rivals.

After such a dramatic opening game of Judgement Day VII, the Blues and the Ospreys did not disappoint in repeating the excitement.

Sam Davies had kicked the Welsh region into an early lead before the game’s first try arrived and it was a stunner.

Owen Lane made the initial break from a lineout strike move, Lloyd Williams was in support on the inside but when Anscombe received the scrum-half pass he still had a lot to do, but the Welsh international jinked his way over for a fine score.

The full-back then added the extras and a penalty for an early 10-3 lead but that was soon trimmed by Sam Davies’ second kick of the day from the tee.

The Blues lost the dangerous Lane to injury and the Ospreys were growing in confidence.

James King carried hard from a scrum to go close and when the ball was recycled it was Allen who charged over under the posts for their first try.

Sam Davies could not miss the extras and the men in black were in front for the first time at 13-10. Anscombe levelled things up again before Davies’ third penalty of the day sent the Ospreys into the sheds with a 16-13 lead.

It got even better soon after the break for the Ospreys, Nicky Smith barging over from close range and Davies converting to open up a ten-point lead.

But back came the Blues after Allen saw yellow for a deliberate knock on, Josh Turnbull collecting a loose ball from a scrappy lineout and powering over from short range.

Anscombe was flawless again with the conversion and it was all to play for heading into the final quarter as the Ospreys led 23-20.

Tomos Williams thought he had put the Blues ahead again but his score was ruled out by the TMO for a Nick Williams obstruction in the build-up.

Anscombe’s immaculate kicking continued and as we approached the final ten minutes it was level again at 23-23.

As it stood, a draw gave the Ospreys fourth ahead of the Blues and when Dan Evans saw yellow for another deliberate knock on, Anscombe picked a bad time to miss his first kick of the day.

Sam Davies was then off target with a drop goal, but when the Blues failed to roll away the fly-half nervelessly slotted a late penalty to seal the win.

The Guinness PRO14 Final is one of the most entertaining games in the rugby calendar and takes place in Glasgow’s Celtic Park on May 25. Tickets start at just £25 for adults, £1 for kids. Visit www.pro14rugby.org/finaltickets

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