Pro 12 position: 7th
Challenge Cup position: 2nd
Anglo Welsh position: 4th
Stadium: BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park
Postcode: CF10 1JA
The Blues made a blistering start to the season, winning their first 4 matches including an impressive away win against Munster at Thomond Park. Since then, Wales’ Capital Region has seen their season has falter, with 5 defeats in 6 games leaving them outside of the Champions Cup places. Their last league win came in Treviso in early November.
The Blues started their European campaign in fine form, registering two comfortable wins over Bristol and Pau in rounds one and two. They continued that run with an emphatic win over Bath earlier this month. A comprehensive defeat in the return fixture at the Rec has halted that run, and they are now tied with Bath on points at the top of their table, only behind on points difference. (Anyone for a knockout tie?)
Two defeats against Exeter and the Ospreys see the Blues bottom of their group. They play Sale and Worcester when the competition resumes in February.
How to get to the stadium
In the extremely unlikely event that you haven’t been before, the BT Sport Arms Park is adjacent to the Principality Stadium. Unfortunately no trains are operating on Boxing Day, but bus services are running with a revised schedule, and we suggest checking local bus operators’ websites for details.
Sadly the DOSC coach is sold out for this game.
Blues Danger Men
The Blues have spent well in the off-season, making good use of their backer's money to fill out their squad. Willis Halaholo joined from New Zealand super xv franchise the Hurricanes in October and will start in the centre alongside last year's import, Ray Lee-Lo. Both are classy players, and it was the latter's well timed run into a gap in a tiring Dragons defence that set up a last minute winning try for the Blues in the fixture at Rodney Parade last season. The Men of Gwent's all welsh midfield of Adam Warren and Tyler Morgan will have their work cut out for them!
Elsewhere, Nick Williams will hope to get the home side over the gain line, forming a bulky back row alongside Josh Navidi and Sam Warburton. The Dragons will need to take some of their good line speed shown at home and apply it in this game to stop the big man before he gains momentum. The tussle between Warburton and heir apparent, Ollie Griffiths, will also be a fascinating encounter.
We would like to extend our congratulations to Sam on his 100th appearance for his region, although of course we hope he is disappointed at the final whistle.
What Blues' fans think of us
Dragons Danger Men
A few were mentioned, but none more so than Rynard Landman and Ed Jackson - which is perhaps unsurprising given they tried, and failed, to sign the former. The boiler house is certainly an area where the Dragons are stronger on paper, with Cory Hill set to start alongside Rynard, forming a bulkier second row than their Blues counterparts.
Realistic hopes for the match
Everyone is always going to be confident for a derby.
However the general consensus from the Blues fans is a close game with a home win. Never underestimate the Dragons though, we won the duel in pre-season ;-).
Season in review so far
The Blues fans are generally positive but a little disheartened at recent performances and results. Although very few have targeted the end of the season playoffs, many are optimistic of a Champions Cup place, which they have missed out on in recent seasons.
Our recent record against the fellow Welsh regions is dire. However, records are there to be broken and I think we have a great chance here.
The last time we met our Blues counterparts on Boxing day, the game ended in a 23 – 17 victory for the Men of Gwent. Coincidentally, Tavis Knoyle scored for the Blues in that game. (Here’s hoping he does the same for us this time round.)
For us to win, we have to start quickly. The Blues have failed to overturn a single half time deficit at home this season, so a quick start is vital.
The Blues worst point return in league home matches this season is 15, so the Dragons will need to be dogged in defence. I am sure that a vocal support will inspire the team to do this.
Blues 13 - 21 Dragons
Ryan Robinson – Dragons Community Ambassador
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
M Morgan, A Cuthbert, R Lee-Lo, W Halaholo, T James, S Shingler, L Williams, R Gill, K Dacey, S Andrews, M Cook, J Down, J Navidi, S Warburton (captain), N Williams. Replacements: K Myhill, B Thyer, T Filise, J Hoeata, E Jenkins, T Williams, N Robinson, C Allen.
T Prydie, P Howard, T Morgan, A Warren, A Hewitt, A O’Brien, T Knoyle, S Hobbs, R Thomas, L Fairbrother, C Hill, R Landman, L Evans (captain), O Griffiths, E Jackson. Replacements: E Dee, T Davies, B Harris, M Screech, N Crosswell, S Pretorius, D Jones, S Beard.