by Dylan James
Cardiff Blues vs Stade Francais
Competition: European Challenge Cup
Venue: Rodney Parade, Newport
Date: 20th December 2020
WALES wing Josh Adams returns to the Cardiff Blues starting 15 as John Mulvihill’s side look to make it two out of two in the Challenge Cup.
A revived back three sees Aled Summerhill trade wings to make way for Josh Adams and Hallam Amos reclaims his role at full-back.
Skipper Cory Hill makes the switch from lock to blindside flanker, and is joined in the back-row by Josh Turnbull and Alun Lawrence, who replaces Sam Moore at 8.
There are three European debuts for the Blues, in Alun Lawrence, Max Llewelyn and Ben Murphy.
Head coach John Mulvihill explained that the trio have deserved this call-up.
“It’s great to see Alun, Max and Ben making their first starts in Europe. All three have shown up well when given their opportunities this season in the PRO14 and we’re delighted to be able to hand them this chance.”
— Cardiff Blues (@cardiff_blues) December 18, 2020
Despite Stade Francais being beaten quite convincingly by Bennetton last weekend, Mulvihill is still wary of their ability and depth.
“Stade lost their opening game last weekend, but we don’t take anything for granted. They’re a strong outfit with a lot of depth and quality in the squad so we need to be on point and focused on the task ahead. If we get the performance right, hopefully the result will take care of itself.”
PLAYER TO WATCH
Josh Adams (Cardiff Blues) – 25-year-old Adams has written his name into Welsh folklore in recent years, with dazzling performances and all important tries in the Six Nations and Rugby World Cup. His influence on the Capital Region since his arrival from Worcester Warriors in 2019 cannot be underestimated, scoring four tries in three appearances in Europe.
The Blues will come into this fixture filled with confidence after a great opening round victory away to Newcastle Falcons. With the return of Josh Adams, and Hallam Amos firing on all cylinders, the Blues have quite a formidable back line, which could pose a real threat to Stade Francais. The away side on the other hand will be feeling rather down in the dumps, after a very disappointing loss against Pro14 minnows Bennetton last week.
Stade will turn up, they’ll be looking to bounce back from that loss and will likely put up a very good fight in Newport come Sunday. Therefore, I don’t think it’ll be a shut out either way, I can see the Blues making it two out of two, but the visitors won’t make it easy for them. My prediction – Blues by 6.
Cardiff Blues: Amos; Summerhill, G Smith, Llewellyn, Adams; J Evans, L Williams; Thyer, Dacey, D Lewis, Murphy, S Davies, Hill (capt), Turnbull, Lawrence.
Replacements: E Lewis, Carre, Arhip, Thornton, Moore, T Williams, B Thomas, Lee-Lo.
Stade Francais: Tui; Naivalu, Fickou, Pasquet, Lapegue; Coville, Percillier; Mavinga, Panis, Melikidze, Grobler, Azagoh, Francoz, Chapuis (capt), Gray.
Replacements: Da Silva, Camara, Tagi, Vincent, Dreno, Veainu, Etien, Manu.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (RFU)