Cardiff Blues v Scarlets | Guinness Pro14 | Friday 3rd January 2020
Cardiff Blues: WWLWW
It’s a rich vein of form for Cardiff Blues at the moment as we have won four Guinness Pro14 games in a row for the first time under John Mulvihill after beating Dragons on Boxing Day.
Scarlets are also in good form, with three wins in their last four games, but have only won away once in the league this season, and that came back in round two against Glasgow.
Scarlets 15-10 Cardiff Blues – 01/01/2017
Scarlets 30-17 Cardiff Blues – 28/10/2017
Cardiff Blues 11-14 Scarlets – 31/12/2017
Scarlets 5-34 Cardiff Blues – 29/12/2018
Cardiff Blues 41-17 Scarlets – 22/03/2019
While generally Scarlets have had the upper hand in this fixture in recent years, last season saw Cardiff Blues come out on top in emphatic fashion.
Bonus point wins home and away will long be remembered by supporters in the capital, particularly the game at the Arms Park which saw Cardiff Blues winning 38-0 at half-time.
Cardiff Blues: Hallam Amos, Owen Lane, Rey Lee-Lo, Ben Thomas, Josh Adams, Jarrod Evans, Tomos Williams; Rhys Gill, Liam Belcher, Scott Andrews, Filo Paulo, Josh Turnbull, Josh Navidi (c), Will Boyde, Nick Williams
Replacements: Ethan Lewis, Corey Domachowski, Keiron Assiratti, James Ratti, Olly Robinson, Lloyd Williams, Jason Tovey, Matthew Morgan
There are five changes to the Cardiff Blues team that beat Dragons on Boxing Day with all of them coming in the pack. Two new props see the experience of Rhys Gill and Scott Andrews recalled, while Filo Paulo is the preferred option in the second row.
Nick Williams returns to fitness to start at number eight with Will Boyde joining him in the back row against his former club. Corey Domachowski is also fit again as he is named on the bench.
Scarlets: Leigh Halfpenny, Ryan Conbeer, Steff Hughes, Hadleigh Parkes, Steff Evans, Angus O’Brien, Gareth Davies; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens (c), Werner Kruger, Jake Ball, Tevita Ratuva, Aaron Shingler, Josh MacLeod, Uzair Cassiem
Replacements: Phil Price, Ryan Elias, Samson Lee, Sam Lousi, Blade Thomson, Kieran Hardy, Ryan Lamb, Paul Asquith
Although the matchday 23 is the same, there are three alterations to the starting XV that hammered Ospreys last time out for Scarlets.
Just like Cardiff Blues they all come up front where Werner Kruger takes over from Samson Lee at tighthead, Tevita Ratuva and Sam Lousi swap at second row and Uzair Cassiem gets the nod over Blade Thomson at number eight.
Player to watch
While the form of a number of backs has been talked about a lot for Scarlets, it is the battle of the opensides where the intrigue lies for me this week, as Will Boyde goes up against former team-mate Josh MacLeod.
The Scarlets man is topping all the turnover lists this season and has been spoken about as a possibility for a call-up to the Wales Six Nations squad, with Wayne Pivac no doubt keeping a keen eye on how he gets on this Friday.
What the coaches said
“It’s a massive challenge, we had a difficult time at the Arms Park last year so we know how tough it is going to be.
“They are a good side, well coached, but we are excited by the challenge and the prospect of playing in front of a packed crowd in the capital. The Conference standings also add an extra spice to it.”
Scarlets forwards coach Ioan Cunningham
“This will be our third game in 13 days so we have refreshed the pack to ensure we can match the Scarlets physically. We are starting to get a few of our injured players back on the pitch and it is great to have Nick Williams back this week.
“He will be champing at the bit to perform in front of his mother before she returns to New Zealand, as will Will Boyde, who has been the signing of the season and will be determined to prove a point to his former side. We’re going into this game with a bit of confidence after four victories in the PRO14 and two good derby wins.
“It was fantastic to see a full Arms Park last week and we are expecting another sell out on Friday night. There is nowhere better to play than our home ground and we’re looking forward to another electric atmosphere.
“We are under no illusions of how tough a challenge it will be against the Scarlets, who have been one of the form teams in the competition this season, but if we can play to our potential for the full 80 minutes there is no reason why we can’t make it a clean sweep of derby wins.”
Cardiff Blues head coach John Mulvihill
Irishman Frank Murphy will take charge of his ninth Cardiff Blues game in all competitions, with us having won five of his eight games as referee so far. The most recent game of his was the home defeat to Edinburgh back in October.
So far this season he has refereed eight games in all competitions, with five home wins, showing 11 yellow cards and two red cards.