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Preview: Bristol v Cardiff Blues

13th October 2016

Cardiff Blues kick-off their European Challenge Cup clash against Bristol with Danny Wilson making eight changes to the team.

Following last week's defeat to the Ospreys, Wilson has reshuffled the side with Rhys Gill, Matthew Rees, Scott Andrews and Jarrad Hoeata starting up front.

Behind the scrum, Tomos Williams, Steven Shingler and Matthew Morgan step up from the bench and Alex Cuthbert returns from injury. 

The Blues have never faced Bristol in the Challenge Cup but did the double over their cross boarder rivals in the Heineken Cup in the 2007-08 season and Wilson is determined to continue that run.

He said: "It's important that we bounce back from last weekend.
"Ultimately this is a very good group of players, who have shown what they are capable of and it's certainly something we want to deal with.
"It's a chance to get back on the horse with a good performance in Europe.
"Bristol have a very big squad so if they make some changes they will still be strong. They have spent a lot of money and have a very big pack of forwards, a big set-piece and they play some rugby as well.
"They will have a big crowd so it makes for a good occasion.”

Match facts

  • This will be the first Challenge Cup meeting between the clubs, however they have met twice before in the Champions Cup, with Cardiff winning both pool stage encounters in 2007/08.
  • Both of Cardiff’s wins against Bristol came by margins of over 15 points.
  • Bristol are competing in European competition for the first time since 2008/09 when they won three of their six Challenge Cup pool stage matches.
  • Bristol’s Tom Varndell needs one try to become the outright top try scorer in the Challenge Cup. No player has scored as many tries for one club in the competition as Varndell whose 20 tries all came while playing for Wasps.
  • Cardiff Blues averaged the most points (38), tries (5.2) and metres gained (527) per game in last season’s competition.
Team comparison (Challenge Cup record)
 Bristol RugbyCardiff Blues
Total Points For1423600
Total Points Against1200307
Total Tries For16081
Total Tries Against13931

There are plenty of connections with Bristol with both Wilson and backs and attack coach Matt Sherratt, having previously spent time coaching at Ashton Gate, while full-back Matthew Morgan made the switch in the summer.

Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan; Alex Cuthbert, Rey Lee-Lo, Steven Shingler, Tom James; Gareth Anscombe, Tomos Williams; Rhys Gill, Matthew Rees, Scott Andrews, Jarrad Hoeata, Macauley Cook, Josh Turnbull, Ellis Jenkins (capt), Nick Williams.

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Gethin Jenkins, Dillon Lewis, James Down, Cam Dolan, Lloyd Williams, Garyn Smith, Dan Fish.

Bristol Rugby: Jack Wallace; Tom Varndell, Jack Tovey, Thretton Palamo, David Lemi (c); Adrian Jarvis, Rhodri Williams; Soane Tonga'uiha, Max Crumpton, Gaston Cortes, Ian Evans, Ben Glynn, Nick Koster, Olly Robinson, Mitch Eadie.

Replacements: Chris Brooker, Jack O’Connell, Jamal Ford-Robinson, Joe Joyce, Nick Fenton-Wells, Andy Uren, Billy Searle, Luke Arscott.