Cardiff Blues 18 - 13 Toulouse
Sun 14 January 17:30 Cardiff Arms Park Att: 7,152 Ref: Ian Tempest European Challenge Cup

Preview: Cardiff Blues v Stade Toulousain

Fri 12 Jan 2018 14:09 Preview: Cardiff Blues v Stade Toulousain
Danny Wilson’s side head into Round Five of Challenge Cup action on top of Pool Two and four points ahead of second-place Lyon, who travel to Sale Sharks this weekend.

Wales’ Capital Region have secured three victories from the opening four games, including a famous victory against Top 14 giants, Toulouse, in the reverse fixture at Stade Ernest Wallon.

Eight changes have been made from the side that narrowly lost to Ospreys at Liberty Stadium last week. 

Captain Gethin Jenkins returns to the starting line-up to form a new-look front row, alongside Matthew Rees and Taufa’ao Filise. Combined, the experienced trio have 526 Cardiff Blues appearances under their belts.

Elsewhere in the pack, Ellis Jenkins continues his comeback from injury by making his first start of the season, while George Earle replaces Damian Welch in the second row.

Garyn Smith, whose scored a try off the bench in last week’s derby, is reunited with Willis Halaholo in midfield.

Gareth Anscombe makes a switch to full-back, as Jarrod Evans takes the number 10 jersey having been forced to drop out of the Liberty Stadium encounter at the 11th hour due to illness. The final change sees Tomos Williams replacing namesake Lloyd at scrum half.

Toulouse have named a strong side for the trip to Cardiff, as they look to keep their qualification hopes alive.

There are 12 senior international players included in Ugo Mola’s matchday 23, including French half-backs, Sébastien Bézy and Jean-Marc Doussain.

Another international features along the backline in the form of wing Sofiane Guitoune. He is joined by Thomas Ramos and South African Cheslin Kolbe, who are Toulouse’s top point scorer and top try scorer for the campaign respectively.

32-times capped France centre, Gael Fickou, partners Jarrod Poi in the centre.

The front row includes Leonardo Ghiraldini, who has 92 Italian caps to his name, and Charles Faumuina, who racked up a half-century of appearances for the All Blacks.

Scotland and British and Irish Lions international Richie Gray starts at second row, with Samoan Joe Tekori featuring at number eight.

Scrum half, Antoine Dupont, who has become a regular for France recently, is one to watch from the bench.

What They Said

Danny Wilson insists there is no bigger occasion than welcoming the one of Europe’s biggest clubs to the Welsh capital for a potentially decisive Challenge Cup encounter.

“A home game in Europe, at this stage, against the giants of Toulouse is a massive game, full stop," said Wilson.

"But to play it in the circumstances we're in, having beaten them away from home which is one of our biggest wins in my time here, but we have to back it up by beating them at home.

"We know their squad is phenomenal and they've got some superstars in there, but we know what's at stake for us.

"Hopefully the Arms Park is as busy as it can be on Sunday evening and we can get a good atmosphere for a good European encounter.

"It will make the difference. It's simple. In tight games where the home crowd gets behind the boys, I certainly feel it as a coach to get that atmosphere.

"We're top of our group, it's a home game against Toulouse and, personally, it's one of those big ones which people come out to watch.”

Back row Ellis Jenkins missed the famous win at Stade Ernest Wallon in October, which put his team in the box seat but he knows it will count for nothing if they fail to do the double over the four-time former Heineken Cup champions.

He continued: "Toulouse are a club whose history speaks for itself in European competition and while maybe they haven't been the giants that they have been previously in the last few years they are still a huge team with a huge budget and some real quality players. 

"I wasn't out there when we beat them away but I've seen clips when we reviewed the game and again this week, of what was essentially a really young team which we put out and culminated in a really big win.

"That's put us in a really good position in this group but it's all for nothing if we can't back it up on Sunday."


Cardiff Blues: Gareth Anscombe; Alex Cuthbert, Garyn Smith, Willis Halaholo, Owen Lane; Jarrod Evans, Tomos Williams; Gethin Jenkins (C), Matthew Rees, Taufa’ao Filise, George Earle, Josh Turnbull, Josh Navidi, Ellis Jenkins, Nick Williams

Replacements: Kristian Dacey, Brad Thyer, Dillon Lewis, Damian Welch, Macauley Cook, Lloyd Williams, Steven Shingler, Blaine Scully

Toulouse: Thomas Ramos; Cheslin Kolbe, Jarrod Poi, Gael Fickou, Sofiane Guitoune; Jean-Marc Doussain, Sébastien Bézy; Clément Castets, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Charlie Faumuina, Florian Verhaeghe, Richie Gray, Semi Kunatani, Louis Madaule, Joe Tekori

Replacements: David Roumieu, Maxime Duprat, Piula Faasalele, Carl Axtens, Rynhardt Elstadt, Antoine Dupont, Paul Perez, Maks Van Dyk