Judgement Day VI
By Steve Matthews
April 28 2018
Judgement Day VI is here, but with eyes on a bigger prize there may not be the same feeling about the game as there was last year.
Judgement Day VI has a slightly strange feel this year for Cardiff Blues fans. Champions Cup qualification already achieved and a European Challenge Cup final to come in a fortnight’s time means that the big day isn’t a priority – in a sense.
With Cardiff Blues gaining a Challenge Cup Final spot last weekend, it’s obvious that there will be some shepherding of the squad for the final in a fortnight.
The team announced by Danny Wilson for the “showpiece occasion” contains 13 changes from the tie against Pau. But it’s a testament to the strength in depth the coaching set-up have built over the last three years, that the Blues will still field a decent team on paper.
Fan favourite Taufa’ao Filise returns for what is probably his swansong in the front row. His try last year from all of twenty yards out – well 3 or 4 in fact – probably raised the biggest cheer of the afternoon. He will be sadly missed if he does decide to leave.
Elsewhere, the only two players to start last weekend are Josh Turnbull, who moves to No8, and Gareth Anscombe, who partners Lloyd Williams at half-back.
The back three is comprised of Matthew Morgan, Aled Summerhill and Blane Scully. Whilst there’s a new centre partnership of Steve Shingler and Garyn Smith.
Up front Rhys Gill and Kirby Myhill join Filise in the front row, whilst Damian Welch and James down pack down in the second row.
Danny Wilson told the Cardiff Blues website, “Judgement Day is massive, it’s a derby again and those are the big games you want to play in. At the tail end of the season, we’ve come up against a number of big games and it feels every week there is a big game.
“We will certainly go into a derby game against the Ospreys with the mindset we want to pick up another derby win and we believe our squad is capable of doing that.
“We picked up a lot of bumps on the weekend, and this week will be about managing those and making a decision on those players, going into Judgement Day and going into the final in a couple of weeks time.
“What this is going to provide is an opportunity for some players, with places genuinely up for grabs.”
So there we have it. The mentality going into this game is one of belief in the team selected, with an eye on a huge occasion in a fortnight’s time.
With the way the Blues have performed in the second half of the season, it would be a shame if there wasn’t some vocal support for the team tomorrow. It’s not a genuine “home game”, but one would hope that the fans, however they view the occasion, can give their heroes a fitting send off before they travel to Bilbao.
They are, after all, representing the team that has offered so much to the support this season. Of course, it will be a difficult encounter with the Ospreys having picked a very strong team, who will obviously be desperate to avenge the near embarrassing reverse they suffered last year.
Head to Head
Played 34 Wins – Ospreys 24 Blues 9 1 draw
Blues: Matthew Morgan; Aled Summerhill, Garyn Smith, Steven Shingler, Blaine Scully; Gareth Anscombe (c), Lloyd Williams; Rhys Gill, Kirby Myhill, Taufa'ao Filise, Damian Welch, James Down, Macauley Cook, Olly Robinson, Josh Turnbull
Replacements: Ethan Lewis, Brad Thyer, Dillon Lewis, Ben Murphy, Alun Lawrence, Lewis Jones, Harri Millard, Max Llewellyn.
Ospreys: Dan Evans; Jeff Hassler, Kieron Fonotia, Owen Watkin, Hanno Dirksen; Dan Biggar, Tom Habberfield; Nicky Smith, Scott Otten, Dmitri Arhip, Bradley Davies, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Sam Cross, Justin Tipuric, James King
Replacements: Ifan Phillips, Rhodri Jones, Ma'afu Fia, Adam Beard, Giorgi Nemsadze, Reuben Morgan-Williams, Sam Davies, Ashley Beck.
Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU)
Assistants: Dan Jones, Shane Kierans
TMO: Neil Hennessey