Back In The Heineken Cup

By Craig Muncey
October 13 2018

After an absence of four years, Cardiff Blues return on Sunday to the top tier of European rugby, with a tough away fixture to Lyon. The French side currently lies in third place in the French League and no doubt will be confident of picking up a home win and getting their European campaign started with a morale-boosting victory.  Here are my thoughts on the game.

Lyon v Cardiff Blues

The French side has started the season well, with away victories in the Top 14 against Perpignan and Racing 92, plus home wins against Montpellier and Grenoble. They have suffered losses to Castres and La Rochelle both away from home. And look a very impressive unit this season. I saw some of the game against Racing 92 and their pack were very good, looked strong and robust and caused Racing huge issues in the tight.

Cardiff Blues for this encounter, have made a few changes. There is no Nick Williams this weekend, according to reports rested with no injury concerns. Dmitri Arhip will be on the bench as will be Rey Lee-Lo, with Dillon Lewis and Garyn Smith getting the start as their respective replacements.

With no George Earle due to injury, Macauley Cook also gets a start at lock alongside Josh Turnbull who has been outstanding in recent weeks. Both Cook and Turnbull are not big commanding second rows in the land of the giants, and there is no doubt looking at that position and the back row unit of Ollie Robinson, Josh Navidi and Ellis Jenkins that the Cardiff Blues are going with mobility and speed to try to compensate for the size of the Lyon pack.

In the backs, Cardiff Blue return to the duo ball playing axis of Gareth Anscombe at 15 and Jarrod Evans at 10, which has worked so well previously for Cardiff Blues in Europe albeit in the European Challenge Cup. Anscombe was excellent against the Dragons last weekend and Evans when he came from the bench in the same game looked very sharp. These two will look to provide Cardiff Blues with attacking opportunities and get behind Lyon's defence, the question is can we get enough ball to do this? Time will tell.

The team selection for Cardiff Blues does give me a feeling that we are holding back players such as Big Nick and Arhip with an eye on the home tie against Glasgow next week, and you do wonder if there is a thought process towards us trying to get a bonus point from this game against Lyon by scoring four or more tries with a game built on speed and playing an expanded game. It's a risk but let's hope it works out.

On the bench, for Cardiff Blues tomorrow is the long-awaited appearance of American international, Samu Manoa. The tough uncompromising forward knows French rugby well from his time at Toulon, and us Cardiff Blues fans can't wait to see him out on the field wearing the Cardiff Blues kit. Seems somewhat ironic though that since the signing was made, all the talk has been about the dual threat of Manoa and Nick Williams, with their huge physicality and ability to smash people in the tackle teaming up on a rugby field, and  now the first time Manoa is available there is no Nick Williams in the 23. I am worried about the lack of size and physicality in our starting pack against a very impressive pack Lyon have. With no Arhip, Earle, Manoa or Nick Williams starting, then let's hope the speed of the pack and the ability of many in the forwards who can earn a turnover works, and the officials' led by JP Doyle, interpretation of the breakdown allows those players to compete at the breakdown.

Here are the two teams for tomorrow:


15. Charlie Ngatai

14. Toby Arnold

13. Rudi Wulf

12. Thibaut Regard

11. Noa Nakaitaci

10. Lionel Beauxis

9. Jean-Marc Doussain

1. Alexandre Menini

2. Mickael Ivaidi

3. Francisco Gomes-Kodela

4. Felix Lambey

5. Hendrik Roodt

6. Julien Puricelli

7. Partick Sobela

8. Loann Goujon


J Maurouard, R Chaume, C Ric, M Carizza, C Fearns, D Cretin, Q Delord, PL Barissi

Cardiff Blues

15. Gareth Anscombe

14. Owen Lane

13. Garyn Smith

12. Willis Halaholo

11. Jason Harries

10. Jarrod Evans

9. Lloyd Williams

1. Rhys Gill

2. Kristian Dacey

3. Dillon Lewis

4. Macauley Cook

5. Josh Turnbull

6. Ollie Robinson

7. Ellis Jenkins

8. Josh Navidi


K Myhill, B Thyer, D Arhip, R Thornton, S Manoa, L Williams, R Lee-Lo, A Summerhill


Really tough start to a European campaign this one. Lyon is very good at home. Their pack is very good and with players such as Carizza and Fearns to come off the bench, then defensively, Cardiff Blues will have to be very strong. When we have possession we have to be clinical and use it very wisely. A win is achievable, as we showed against them last season, but this is the first game in the Heineken Champions Cup a very different proposition, and I see us coming up short, unfortunately.

Lyon 32 Cardiff Blues 21

More than happy to be proved wrong!


pqs: qs:
Back In The Heineken Cup
Posted by: 1876 Cardiff Rugby (IP Logged)
Date: 13/10/2018 08:46

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Re: Back In The Heineken Cup
Posted by: CaerphillyBluesfan (IP Logged)
Date: 14/10/2018 15:51

Fantastic result for us today. Fitness, class, power and brains, we had it all. Biggest worry was the scrum was a worry, second row was lightweight which may have been the biggest issue. Other than that it was a brilliant performance topped off with the win.

Re: Back In The Heineken Cup
Posted by: Craig Muncey (IP Logged)
Date: 14/10/2018 17:26

Great result. Basic errors made first half and our kicking game was poor but second half played their hearts out, bodies put on the line. Lyon offered nothing in back play and with the players they have in their back line should offer far more. Well played Cardiff Blues!

Re: Back In The Heineken Cup
Posted by: NEIL CARDIFF (IP Logged)
Date: 15/10/2018 15:33

great result what i said before did come true about how weak our front five was in the scrum, apart for that the blues were great at the breakdown and in the loose our backs played lyon of the park . thought the final last year was a good win but think the game saturday topped that

Re: Back In The Heineken Cup
Posted by: Rich. (IP Logged)
Date: 15/10/2018 21:49

But our front is mobile whereas theirs weren't - one of the reasons we won.

Re: Back In The Heineken Cup
Posted by: NEIL CARDIFF (IP Logged)
Date: 21/10/2018 09:51

could have been i different result with a different ref could have sinbined lewis at the scrum .

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