Ospreys v Cardiff Blues | Guinness Pro14 | Saturday 21st December 2019
Cardiff Blues: WLWWL
Ospreys are in the middle of a torrid run, with poor form being matched by injury, international unavailability and off-field mess as Allen Clarke has been removed from the role of Head Coach.
You have to go back to the 12th October for the last time the West Wales side secured a win, 24-20 over Benetton at the Liberty Stadium.
Cardiff Blues 16-26 Ospreys – 17/11/2017
Ospreys 29-28 Cardiff Blues – 06/01/2018
Cardiff Blues 23-26 Ospreys – 28/04/2018
Ospreys 20-11 Cardiff Blues – 05/01/2019
Cardiff Blues 23-26 Ospreys – 27/04/2019
If you want the last time Cardiff Blues won a league game at the Liberty Stadium you have to go way back to the 22nd December 2005 when tries from Chris Czekaj, Chris Morgan and Deiniol Jones, as well as the boot of Nicky Robinson, secured a 9-28 victory.
Ospreys: Cai Evans, Jeff Hassler, Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, Scott Williams, Luke Morgan, Marty McKenzie, Aled Davies; Nicky Smith, Scott Otten, Ma’afu Fia, Adam Beard, Bradley Davies, Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric (c), Olly Cracknell
Replacements: Dewi Lake, Rhys Fawcett, Simon Gardiner, Marvin Orie, Morgan Morris, Shaun Venter, Luke Price, Kieran Williams
There are six changes to the Ospreys side that started against Racing last week as they welcome back Bradley Davies, Justin Tipuric and Olly Cracknell up front, as well as Aled Davies and Scott Williams in the backs.
There is also a spot for Canadian international Jeff Hassler on the wing as Shaun Venter and Kieran Williams drop to the bench, and Marvin Orie and Morgan Morris are called up on to it.
Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan, Owen Lane, Rey Lee-Lo, Ben Thomas, Josh Adams, Jarrod Evans, Tomos Williams; Brad Thyer, Kirby Myhill, Scott Andrews, Filo Paulo, James Ratti, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Will Boyde (c), Josh Turnbull
Replacements: Liam Belcher, Rhys Gill, Keiron Assiratti, Macauley Cook, Olly Robinson, Lloyd Williams, Jason Tovey, Hallam Amos
There are just two changes to the Cardiff Blues starting XV from that which was selected against Pau last week as Brad Thyer starts at loosehead and James Ratti returns to the second row with Josh Turnbull dropping to number eight and Will Boyde shifting to openside.
Rhys Gill and Olly Robinson drop down to the bench where Macauley Cook is also selected after playing for Cardiff RFC last weekend.
Player to watch
Of course the return of Justin Tipuric has garnered all the headlines, but the real key player for Ospreys may well be new fly-half Marty McKenzie, signed on a short-term contract during the New Zealand off-season.
An inventive attacking performance against Racing helped the Ospreys on the way to scoring five tries at the La Defense Arena, but it was high-risk stuff that led to an interception try and in defence he looked very weak. He could either make or break this game for the home side.
What the coach said
“There’s going to be a real edge to this one. Our boys haven’t won away from home against Ospreys in a long time, and they’re hungry to get down there and get a big win to start the run of derby games.
“Our performances over the last few weeks have been really good, so we can travel to Swansea with some confidence and momentum.
“We want to continue to play to our strengths but we’re fully aware of the challenges ahead and how Ospreys will be looking to nullify our game. Regardless of their results this year we have a huge amount of respect and admiration for them, they always perform against Cardiff Blues.
“We’re really excited for this one but we know we will have to be at our best. A good performance and a good result would give us a boost before two massive derbies in front of our home crowd.”
John Mulvihill, Cardiff Blues Head Coach
Dan Jones is a slightly controversial appointment as a former Whitchurch High pupil who previously played for the Cardiff Blues Academy before injury forced him to give up on his playing career.
He has never refereed a Cardiff Blues game and has officiated two Ospreys games but both away from home at Rodney Parade, with a win and a loss coming from them.