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PREVIEW: Wilson primed for Bristol reunion

Thursday 13th October 2016

12:00 am (GMT)

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Cardiff Blues know they must pull off a shock victory over pool three leaders Harlequins if they are to reach the knock-out stages of this year's Challenge Cup. - 14/01/2016 10:44

Cardiff Blues head coach Danny Wilson faces former club Bristol for the first time when the River Severn rivals clash at Ashton Gate.

Wilson spent a year as forwards coach while attack specialist Matt Sherratt also served under Andy Robinson at Bristol before crossing to Cardiff. So they are only too aware of what lies in store for them at Ashton Gate for an intriguing Anglo-Welsh encounter.

Wilson said: “This week almost has a derby feel and there is a bit of history there, given that Matt and myself worked for Andy at Bristol. It makes for an exciting encounter at what I’m certain will be a packed Ashton Gate.”

Bristol are yet to win since returning to the Aviva Premiership this season but Wilson believes that will count for little as the club prepares for its first European tie in almost eight years.

He said: “Bristol are searching for their first win and have a star-studded team searching for it. They have a very big squad so if they do make some changes they will still be strong. They have spent a lot of money and have a very big pack of forwards, a big set-piece and they play some rugby as well.

“It’s a great venue, Ashton Gate is a fantastic stadium, they will have a big crowd so it makes for a good occasion and it’s a game we need to bounce back quickly from.”

Cardiff are also looking to bounce back from successive Guinness Pro12 losses to Leinster and Ospreys, having won their opening four games of the season.

Wilson said: “We have dealt with it and moved on into Europe. It’s important that we show a performance because we have a better group of players than that. Bristol gives us the opportunity to bounce back.”

Bristol hope to carry on where they left off against Newcastle Falcons last week after scoring two unanswered tries in a second-half recovery that fell just short of a claiming a first win.

Forwards coach Mark Bakewell said: “We’re very excited about the new challenge of Europe but the challenge for the team remains the same, to learn from our mistakes and take both the good and the bad from the Newcastle game.

“We put in some good collective attacks in the second half but we have to cut down on individual errors against a Cardiff side who are a very good attacking team.”
Match Facts

  • This will be the first Challenge Cup meeting between the clubs, however they have met twice before in the Champions Cup, with Cardiff winning both pool stage encounters in 2007/08.
  • Both of Cardiff’s wins against Bristol came by margins of over 15 points.
  • Bristol are competing in European competition for the first time since 2008/09 when they won three of their six Challenge Cup pool stage matches.
  • Bristol’s Tom Varndell needs one try to become the outright top try scorer in the Challenge Cup. No player has scored as many tries for one club in the competition as Varndell whose 20 tries all came while playing for Wasps.
  • Cardiff Blues averaged the most points (38), tries (5.2) and metres gained (527) per game in last season’s competition.

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REPORT: Cardiff make perfect start at Bristol

Friday 14th October 2016

12:00 am (GMT)

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Cardiff Blues produced a powerful display to claim a potentially crucial bonus-point win away at Bristol in Pool 4. - 14/10/2016 21:42

Cardiff Blues produced a powerful display to claim a potentially crucial bonus-point win away at Bristol in Pool 4. - 14/10/2016 21:42

Cardiff Blues produced a powerful display to claim a potentially crucial bonus-point win away at Bristol in Pool 4.

Bristol marked their return to European rugby with the game’s opening try through hooker Max Crumpton.

But Ray Lee-Lo, Josh Turnbull, Alex Cuthbert and Tom James all hit-back as visitors Cardiff finished with maximum points.

Bristol replacement Joe Joyce went over in the final seconds but it was too late to claim anything for Andy Robinson’s side, still without a win this season.

European rugby returned to Bristol after an eight-year absence and the hosts were determined to enjoy the occasion with a lively start at Ashton Gate.

Tom Varndell saw an early try ruled for a foot in touch after a clever exchange between Adrian Jarvis and Thretton Palamo but hooker Crumpton finished a lineout drive from close range on 15 minutes.

But Bristol conceded far too many penalties and allowed Anscombe to keep Cardiff within a point at 10-9 with three penalties.

Jarvis kicked his second after Cardiff and Wales full-back Matthew Morgan was shown a yellow card for a high-tackle just a yard from his own try line. But Cardiff seized control of the tie with three tries in an 18-minute spell either side of half-time.

Even though there were down to 14 men, Blues struck twice before the break from lineout drives as they were richly rewarded for kicking to touch, rather than at goal.

The first was finished by centre Lee-Lo when he touched down Anscombe’s delicate chip over the on-rushing defence.

Bristol then lost flanker Nick Koster to the sin bin, also for a high tackle, and opposite number Turnbull capitalised when he finished a powerful drive. Anscombe missed the conversion but Blues lead 21-13.

Cardiff then claimed their third try just seven minutes into the second half, set up by their scrum that had much the better of the Bristol pack.

Nick Williams made a break for the blindside, where he was halted by the combined efforts of David Lemi and Koster. But Cardiff kept the ball alive and Cuthbert barged his way between the posts.

The bonus point now looked inevitable but it was not until Steve Shingler’s break ended two phases later with his scoring pass to Wales wing James eight minutes from time that Cardiff had all five points in the bag.

Gethin Jenkins, a late replacement, was shown a yellow card for infringing at a ruck and Joyce crashed over in the final seconds, converted by Billy Searle.

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