Cardiff Blues


Rugby U


Evening all. Tonight, Cardiff Blues face Gloucester for the European Challenge Cup title, in the first of this season's rugby finals. Whilst it's definitely the lesser of the two European competitions, it still looks pretty damn good in a trophy cabinet. As both teams already know...

Gloucester are two-time champions, having won this title in 2006 and 2015. They're also last year's beaten finalists, making this an impressive third final in four years for the West Country club. Cardiff, meanwhile, are the only Welsh side to have won a European competition, and will be keen to add to their 2010 win tonight. Obviously.

Blues sailed through the pool stage with five wins out of six, and came through a tight semifinal with Pau to reach tonight's championship match. They're a side on form, having won ten of their last twelve matches. Gloucester, by contrast, snuck into the last eight despite two losses to the Blues' semifinal opponents, Pau. Their semifinal opponents were premiership-playoffs-qualifiers Newcastle.

Gloucester, having put out almost a second team for their final premiership match against Saracens, have named pretty much an identical team to the match before, with Ruan Ackermann the only change from then. Injuries to Gethin Jenkins (who must be about 100 years old by now, surely?!) and Alex Cuthbert have forced two of Scarlet's ten changes tonight. Full teams follow.

Cardiff Blues: Anscombe; Lane, Lee-Lo, Halaholo, Scully; Evans, Williams; Gill, Dacey, Filise, Davies, Turnbull, Navidi, Jenkins (c), Williams. Replacements: Myhill, Thyer, Andrews, Welch, Robinson, Williams, Smith, Morgan.

Gloucester: Woodward; Marshall, Twelvetrees, Atkinson, Trinder; Burns, Braley; Hohneck, Hanson, Afoa, Slater (c), Galarza, Polledri, Ludlow, Ackermann. Replacements: Matu'u, Rapava Ruskin, Balmain, Clarke, Morgan, Vellacott, Symons, Hudson.

Prop Falise is the Blues' only survivor from their last tournament win, eight years ago.

The excellent Jerome Garces is tonight's referee, and he gets things started, Cardiff kicking off.

2' Blues with the ball just inside their own half, and a nice little kick over the Gloucester line is collected by Halaholo, who then knocks it on. He'd done the hard bit, but ah well.

4' Burns with a well weighted kick pins Blues back with a lineout on their own 22. A box kick takes the pressure off the Welsh.