Challenge Cup: Cardiff v Sale Preview

Challenge Cup Pool 2 Leaders, the Cardiff Blues, will be looking to further extend their advantage at the summit of the pool when they take on the third-placed Sale Sharks on Sunday the 17th of December.

Pool 2 of the European Rugby Challenge Cup is certainly one to keep an eye on with only four points separating fourth-placed Lyon and the table-topping Cardiff Blues. The latter side will host the Sale Sharks this coming Saturday in what could prove to be the most pivotal game of the pool. A win for the hosts would put them further in the driver's seat for knock-out qualification whilst a win for the visitors would see them move to the top of the pool. With so much on the line, this could be a bit of a 'Festive Season Cracker'.

Cardiff Blues v Sale Sharks | Sunday 17 September | Cardiff Arms Park | 17:15

To Win (80 Mins)
Cardiff 4/10 | Draw 22/1 | Sale 2/1

Cardiff Blues
The hosts for this weekend's affair currently sit in the box seat when it comes to qualification for the next round but they could actually drop to the foot of the table should they fail to get a point from this one and other results go against them - that's just how tight this pool is.

The Blues have enjoyed a solid enough pool phase thus far, winning two of their opening three fixtures. Their wins came against the two French clubs; 29-19 against Lyon in the opening round and 15-17 against Toulouse in the second round. They have two home games against the aforementioned French sides remaining, which is good news for fans of the Blues as French clubs are certainly not the best of travellers.

The only blemish on Cardiff's record came last weekend as they were beaten 24-0 by Sale. The fact that Cardiff drew a blank out in Manchester will be a huge worry for skipper Matthew Rees, who spoke at length about his side owing their fans a big response. We'll have to wait and see if his co-workers are up to the challenge. 

Sale Sharks
Yes, Cardiff were poor last week but that doesn't take away from the clinical performance the Sharks put in. The men from Sale were put in a brilliant all-round performance, with brutal tackles and great attacks equally present. The Sharks will need to be even better this week, however, as they are coming up against a wounded and subsequently dangerous Blues outfit.

Unlike Cardiff, Sale had struggled in the tournament prior to last week and had only two points to show for their endeavours, with the aforementioned points coming from a home draw with Toulouse. Last week's victory would have been a massive morale booster however, and you can expect the Sharks to deliver some big performances during their remaining pool fixtures.

Verdict: Cardiff Blues 4/10
I'm expecting a big response from the Welsh team. They were made to look second rate last weekend which will have angered them. A moderate strike on the home win is my play here.

Written by Darry Worthington for

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