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Cardiff Blues change nine for European showdown

20th January 2017

Cardiff Blues have made nine changes for their must-win European Challenge Cup clash with Bristol on Saturday (3pm).

The Blues have to complete the double over their cross-border rivals to secure qualification for the quarter-finals and they have been boosted by the return to fitness of several key players. 

Rey Lee-Lo, Gareth Anscombe, Rhys Gill, Kristian Dacey and Nick Williams all return to fitness at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park following injury.

And they are joined in the starting line-up by Alex Cuthbert, Blaine Scully, Lloyd Williams and Anton Peikrishvili.

Head coach Danny Wilson said: “Up until last week we had 18 players unavailable so to get five key players back fit is a big boost ahead of an important game.

“If we win then we make a quarter-final and that’s a great achievement for us at the moment. Last season we didn’t get close to that so in this competition it’s a big improvement.

“We’ve won four out of five games and we’ve now got the opportunity against Bristol to secure a quarter-final.”

Wilson’s side can still finish top of Pool Four if Bath were to lose at home to Section Paloise but regardless of that result a win of any sorts would secure qualification as one of the best runners-up.

But Wilson knows his side cannot afford to underestimate a Bristol side, which has improved in recent weeks despite a heavy home defeat to Bath in the last round.

He added: “There’s still a few permutations that can play out but we have to get away from that. We need to focus on one thing and one thing only and that’s a home win. We need a home win to make the quarter-finals

“In the league Bristol have certainly had a turnaround in terms of performances. They’ve run a lot of teams very close and they’ve picked up a couple of wins.

“If they make changes they will be picking hungry players, which is a danger in itself, or they may ask those players (that lost to Bath) to back up and put in a performance. Either way it will be a tough game for us. 

“They have shown some big improvement, especially in defence and they have a lot of threats in attack.”

Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan; Alex Cuthbert, Rey Lee-Lo, Steven Shingler, Blaine Scully; Gareth Anscombe, Lloyd Williams; Rhys Gill, Kristian Dacey, Anton Peikrishvili, Jarrad Hoeata, Macauley Cook, Josh Navidi, Sam Warburton (capt), Nick Williams

Replacement: Kirby Myhill, Corey Domachowski, Scott Andrews, James Down, Seb Davies, Tomos Williams, Garyn Smith, Rhun Williams.

Unavailable for selection:
Lewis Jones
Dan Fish
Aled Summerhill
Gethin Jenkins
Josh Turnbull
Dillon Lewis
Tom James
George Earle
Brad Thyer
Ellis Jenkins
Willis Halaholo