Match Page 2017-18 - Scoreboard WP ID: 132

Match Page 2017-18 - Last Time WP ID: 133

Match Page 2017-18 - Current Standing WP: 134

Match Page 2017-18 - H2H WP: 136

Match Page 2017-18 - Last 3 Matches WP: 142

Match Page 2017-18 - Season so Far WP:141

Preview: Cardiff Blues v Scarlets

Rich Dore 29 Dec 2017
Scott Williams

The Welsh capital plays host to the meeting of two in-form teams on New Year’s Eve as Cardiff Blues welcome Scarlets to Cardiff Arms Park.

The cross-table clash sees Conference B leaders Scarlets travel from west Wales to take on Conference A’s fourth-placed side in the shape of the resurgent Blues.

What’s at stake? Both regions are under pressure from the Irish provinces beneath them in their respective conferences, with Leinster breathing down Scarlets’ neck and Connacht level on points with the Blues.

Wayne Pivac’s Scarlets will be desperate to hold onto top spot to guarantee home advantage in the Guinness PRO14 finals, whilst the Blues are currently in an automatic Champions Cup place but can’t afford to concede any ground to the teams currently below them.

Team news (Cardiff Blues): Taufa’ao Filise will hit an astonishing 250th appearance for Cardiff Blues as he takes up a place in the front row alongside Rhys Gill and skipper Matthew Rees.

Flanker Josh Navidi will also hit a milestone as he’s in line to make his 150th appearance for the club in the back row, alongside Olly Robinson and Nick Williams.

Team news (Scarlets): Scott Williams will lead the Scarlets from midfield whilst Tom Prydie and Paul Asquith come onto the wings in place of Steff Evans and the injured Johnny McNicholl.

The front row will be formed by Werner Kruger, Ryan Elias and Wyn Jones, whilst Tadhg Beirne and Steve Cummins will back them up in the engine room.

Talking points: Blues boss Danny Wilson is pleased to welcome back Kristian Dacey, Dillon Lewis, Ellis Jenkins and Alex Cuthbert from injury.

“It is great to have players coming back to fitness and competition for places following a period where we were quite limited in terms of selection,” said Wilson.

“That is what we need during this vital period of the season and we’re very much looking forward to what promises to be a brilliant occasion against the reigning champions.

“We are going into the clash on the back of some good form, with seven wins from our last 10 first-team fixtures and five in a row at home, but we are under no illusions of the challenge the Scarlets present.”

Whilst Scarlets boss Wayne Pivac is expecting a tough encounter: “We have the utmost respect for the Blues and we can’t get carried away with Tuesday’s result.

“It’s similar to the Ospreys, the formbook goes out the window when you head into derby matches.

“We only have to look back to the home game here when we were up 18-3 at half time and virtually with a blink of an eye it was 18-17.”

Key battle: Willis Halaholo v Scott Williams

The midfield battle between Willis Halaholo and Scott Williams could be the key factor in deciding which way this finely-poised battle goes, with both men dictating play for their sides all season long.

Williams delivered the crucial crossfield kick that allowed Josh Macleod to steal the game from the Ospreys on Boxing Day, whilst Halaholo has been key to the Blues chances all season – his barn-storming carries through midfield doing the damage week after week.

Key stat: Cardiff Blues have won their last two matches, at home to Sale in the European Challenge Cup and at Dragons on Boxing Day

Did you know? Scarlets only defeat in their last five matches in all tournaments was 21-28 to Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on 2 December.

Cardiff Blues: M Morgan; O Lane, R Lee-Lo, W Halaholo, T James; G Anscombe, T Williams; R Gill, M Rees (capt), T Filise, S Davies, J Turnbull, J Navidi, O Robinson, N Williams.

Replacements: K Dacey, B Thyer, D Lewis, G Earle, E Jenkins, L Williams, J Evans, A Cuthbert.

Scarlets: L Halfpenny, T Prydie, H Parkes, S Williams (capt), P Asquith, R Patchell, G Davies, W Jones, R Elias, W Kruger, T Beirne, S Cummins, J Macleod, J Davies, W Boyde

Replacements; K Owens, R Evans, S Gardiner, D Bulbring, L Rawlins, A Davies,  D Jones, I Nicholas

Match officials – Referee: George Clancy (IRFU)

AR1: Ian Davies (WRU)

AR2: Adam Jones (WRU)

TMO: Sean Brickell (WRU)

TV: Sky Sports and BBC Cymru

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

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

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Patchell haunts former club as Scarlets edge derby

Ross Lawson 31 Dec 2017

Rhys Patchell’s try against his former club saw reigning Guinness PRO14 champions Scarlets sign off a successful 2017 with victory over Welsh rivals Cardiff Blues.

The fly-half jinked his way over the try line shortly after the break, with the Conference B leaders then holding on to their advantage to make it just one defeat in their last six matches in all competitions.

The Blues, who saw Tomos Williams’ second-half try chalked off by the TMO, had led at the break thanks to two Gareth Anscombe penalties after tries apiece for Tom Prydie and Ellis Jenkins.

Led out by Taufa’ao Filise on his 250th appearance, they started brightly and a powerful drive from their pack in their own half set them on the way to the opening points of the game.

The hosts managed to retain possession upfield after a strong carry by George Earle and, when Scarlets were penalised for a ruck offence, Anscombe slotted over his penalty on seven minutes.

It was then the turn of Scarlets to demonstrate their strength at the set piece. Gareth Davies was the architect, intelligently breaking off from a wheeled scrum to charge towards the line before offloading to winger Prydie to dot down on 14 minutes. Leigh Halfpenny converted for 7-3.

The Cardiff Arms Park crowd did not have to wait long for a second try and it was a popular scorer in the form of flanker Jenkins, making his first appearance of the season following a hamstring injury.

Ten minutes after coming on for Nick Williams who headed off for a head injury assessment, Jenkins was on hand to dive over from close range after a powerful lineout drive once more from the Blues. Anscombe dragged his conversion wide, leaving the Blues ahead by a single point.

Scarlets thought they had got their second try of the match on 24 minutes through scrum-half Gareth Davies but replays showed James Davies had previously illegally kicked the ball out of the scrum.

Anscombe then compounded the misery shortly afterwards, extending his side’s lead with a penalty.

The Blues continued to hold the 11-7 advantage at the break but Scarlets came out on the attack after the restart and a sustained period of pressure, originally began by a lively break from James Davies, saw Patchell pick up the ball and spin over the try line, with Halfpenny adding the extras.

Trailing by three points, Blues nearly edged ahead shortly before the hour mark but Williams was ruled to have come up short of the line by the TMO after another strong drive from the hosts.

The Blues continued to apply the pressure in search of the breakthrough but Scarlets held firm to complete the double over their rivals.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Match Page 2017-18 - Summary WP:137

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Performance WP:138