Cardiff Blues 14 - 6 Sale Sharks
Sun 17 December 15:15 Cardiff Arms Park Att: 4,974 Ref: Thomas Charabas European Challenge Cup

Preview: Cardiff Blues v Sale Sharks

Fri 15 Dec 2017 15:21 Preview: Cardiff Blues v Sale Sharks
Following Sale and Toulouse's victories last week, there is only four points separating top-of-the-table Cardiff Blues and Lyon, who sit bottom of Pool 2.

Following Sunday's clash, the Blues head into three back-to-back Guinness PRO14 derbies over the festive period.

Captain Gethin Jenkins returns to the Cardiff Blues side as one of six changes following last week's 24-0 defeat at AJ Bell Stadium.

The 134-times capped Wales international is joined by Macauley Cook, Damian Welch and Josh Navidi, who returns from international duties, as changes amongst the pack.

In the backline, Tomos Williams, who made his 50th Cardiff Blues appearance last week, is reintroduced at scrum-half, while Willis Halaholo replaces Rey Lee-Lo in midfield.

The visitors have made nine changes from last week's win in the reverse fixture, as Scotland international, Josh Strauss, returns to captain the Sharks.

Last week's man-of-the-match, AJ MacGinty, is replaced by Sam James at outside half as the only change in the backline.

What They Said

Danny Wilson insists his side are ready for payback as they welcome Sale to the Welsh capital for the second match of the crucial European double-header.

"Sunday will be about repaying our supporters with a home performance they can be proud of," said Wilson.

"We're still top of the group after two good wins, but as I've said before, we can't overreact after big wins and we can't overreact to big losses. 

"With a small squad it's difficult to fight on all fronts, but we certainly want to fight in Europe and PRO14, they are our main competitions. 

"We won our first two games in Europe, with two good wins, and going into this double-header we want to go strong and do as well as we can.

"We've played some good rugby and had some good wins so it's important we come back to the Arms Park with a decent performance.

"It's important that we repay our fans. There were several who made the long journey up to Sale, as was recognised by players and staff, and we need to repay them this weekend with our performance.

"We'll draw a line under it and move onto this game. We certainly weren't happy with our performance."
Meanwhile, Josh Navidi, who makes his first appearance for the region since his key role for Wales over the autumn internationals, is looking forward to returning to Cardiff Blues duty and continue his red hot form for Wales' Capital Region.

"It was four years from my first cap to my second but they have come thick and fast now and I can't complain - the autumn was unbelievable for me and hopefully it keeps coming. I'll concentrate on my own game and doing what I do every week for the Blues.

"Last week against Sale was a tough game and it's always a tough place to go but hopefully we can turn it around this week and obviously get the win.

"We're still top and with a home game now we can hopefully turn it around and put last week's performance behind us.

"These games always give you that opportunity - if you lose you have the next week to go out and put it right. Hopefully we can do that on Sunday.

"When its full here, it's a really good atmosphere so hopefully we can get the people down here to watch."