Wil­son rings the changes for visit of French high-fly­ers

Western Mail - - SPORT - Si­mon Thomas Rugby cor­re­spon­dent si­mon.thomas@waleson­line.co.uk

CARDIFF Blues coach Danny Wil­son has made ten changes for this evening’s Euro­pean Chal­lenge Cup opener against French cham­pi­onship lead­ers Lyon at the Arms Park (7pm).

Matthew Mor­gan has been re­warded for his two tries in last Fri­day’s Welsh derby vic­tory over the Dragons with a start at full-back, while Amer­i­can winger Blaine Scully makes his first home ap­pear­ance of the sea­son.

Cen­tre Garyn Smith and scrum-half To­mos Wil­liams also come into the side, while there has been a ma­jor re­jig to the pack.

It’s all change in the front row as Corey Do­ma­chowski, Matthew Rees and Dil­lon Lewis form a new unit, with Ge­orge Earle re­ceiv­ing the call at lock and Ma­cauley Cook and Josh Turnbull join­ing the back row. On the bench, prop An­ton Peikr­ishvili and scrum-half Lewis Jones are in­cluded in the match-day squad for the first time this sea­son, while winger Aled Sum­mer­hill re­turns after a month out of the frame. Lyon are the early sea­son pace­set­ters in the Top14, hav­ing won six out of seven games, in­clud­ing no­table vic­to­ries away to Rac­ing 92 and Stade Fran­cais on their two trips to Paris. But they have made 13 changes from the side that tri­umphed at Agen last week­end, with star men Fred­die Micha­lak, Liam Gill, Alexis Palis­son and Rudi Wolf all be­ing rested. Giv­ing his thoughts on the op­po­si­tion, Blues boss Wil­son said: “When you look through their squad list, they can change their team and still have a num­ber of what we would class as top end pro­fes­sion­als play­ing and maybe not nec­es­sar­ily those who play week in, week out. “We’re fully aware that they’ll be strong in terms of player base, re­gard­less, but how they ap­proach the com­pe­ti­tion will be the ques­tion. “Whether they’ll be sur­prised to be on top of the league or not, I’m not sure, but it is cer­tainly a great achieve­ment to be top of the Top 14, that’s a hell of a state­ment with the sides that’s in there.

“Whether they re­main fo­cused on that or it’s best to main­tain mo­men­tum by ro­tat­ing just a few play­ers, ei­ther way they’ll be strong and we’ll face a stern test.

“Over the last cou­ple of years we’ve beaten Mont­pel­lier at home, beaten Pau at home and away so we’re not daunted by that fact.

“We’re fully aware it’s an in­form French team and we’ll need to be on top of our game to get the re­sult.”

After fac­ing Lyon, the Blues travel to Toulouse next week­end, with Sale the other team in Pool 2. Cardiff Blues: Matthew Mor­gan; Blaine Scully, Rey Lee-Lo, Garyn Smith, Alex Cuth­bert; Jar­rod Evans, To­mos Wil­liams; Corey Do­ma­chowski, Matthew Rees, Dil­lon Lewis, Ge­orge Earle, Seb Davies, Ma­cauley Cook, Josh Turnbull, Olly Robin­son. Re­place­ments: Kris­tian Dacey, Brad Thyer, An­ton Peikr­ishvili, James Down, Josh Na­vidi, Lewis Jones, Steven Shin­gler, Aled Sum­mer­hill Lyon: De­lon Ar­mitage; Tim­i­lai Roko­duru, Pierre-Louis Barassi, Adrien Se­guret, Jone Tuva; Piero Dominguez, Bap­tiste Couil­loud; Tornike Mataradze, Deon Fourie, Richard Choirat, Etienne Oosthuizen, Fran­cois van der Merwe, Tangi­noa Halai­fonua, Vir­gile Bruni, Theophile Cotte. Ref­eree: Vir­gile La­combe, Hamza Kaabèche, Gu­ram Papidze, Josh Bekhuis, Felix Lam­bey, Theo Be­lan, Jean-Mar­cellin But­tin, Jonathan Pelissie.

> Matthew Mor­gan starts for the Blues tonight along with Blaine Scully, in­set

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