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Jenkins leads Cardiff Blues in Bilbao final

10th May 2018

Ellis Jenkins will captain Cardiff Blues in their crunch European Challenge Cup final against Gloucester on Friday night (8pm BST).

Jenkins, who was named Wales co-captain earlier in the week is one of 10 changes to the starting line-up that faced the Ospreys two weeks ago.

Danny Wilson has recalled the majority of the side that beat Pau in the semi-finals at Cardiff Arms Park with Gethin Jenkins and Alex Cuthbert missing out due to injury.

They are replaced by Rhys Gill and Blaine Scully respectively, while Taufa’ao Filise is preferred at tight-head and will make his 255th and final appearance for the region.

Filise is the sole survivor from the Cardiff Blues’ starting line-up that claimed a stunning Amlin Challenge Cup final victory over Toulon in 2010, while Scott Andrews lines up on the bench once again.

Cardiff Blues head coach Danny Wilson said: “It has been a great achievement to reach this stage but we will now settle for nothing less than winning on Friday night. We are all determined to deliver some silverware to the region.

“Losing Gethin, and all the experience and leadership he brings, is obviously a blow but Rhys Gill is a more than capable replacement and I have run out of superlatives for Taufa’ao Filise.

“It promises to be an electric occasion between two sides that like to run the ball and play attacking rugby. 

“Gloucester will be highly motivated for a European final, will be well-prepared and emotionally in a place that they will be bouncing to try to turn us over but that will be no different to ourselves.

“It is great to hear so many Cardiff Blues fans are making the trip over to Bilbao. These are the games and occasions you want to be part of, we have trained well throughout the week and cannot wait until kick-off.”

Friday will be Cardiff Blues’ first final in eight years and will also be both Wilson’s and backs and attack coach Matt Sherratt’s last game at the region.

The Blues lost to Gloucester at the quarter-final stage last season but go into this encounter with plenty of confidence having won 10 of their last 12 games.

Wilson added: “This team has developed a huge amount since last year’s quarter-final and go into Friday on the back of a superb European campaign with victories over Lyon, Sale Sharks, Toulouse, Edinburgh and Pau.

“It is great that we have already secured Champions Cup rugby for next season and to win this competition would be the icing on the cake but we are under no illusions that we will have to be at our best to beat Gloucester.”

Cardiff Blues: Gareth Anscombe; Owen Lane, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Blaine Scully; Jarrod Evans, Tomos Williams; Rhys Gill, Kristian Dacey, Taufa’ao Filise, Seb Davies, Josh Turnbull, Josh Navidi, Ellis Jenkins (capt), Nick Williams.

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Brad Thyer, Scott Andrews, Damian Welch, Olly Robinson, Lloyd Williams, Garyn Smith, Matthew Morgan