Wilson rings the changes for visit of French high-flyers
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