Blues face a real pack of trouble; Henineken Cup QUEST FOR EURO GLORY: BLUES READY TO SCRAP AND FIGHT.
THE Blues failure to get a home quarter-final draw against Toulouse will come back to haunt them this afternoon.
I fear the Blues will pay for not really going for it in the last 35 minutes of their victory over Bristol.
They only needed one try to secure the all-important home draw that is so vital in the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup.
If the Blues were playing Toulouse at the Arms Park I would really fancy their chances.
David Young's side would certainly have a better chance than they do playing away in France.
Toulouse, of course, have had their slip-ups, aswesawagainst the Scarlets in last season's tournament; but they are few and far between.
Toulouse must be the toughest place in Europe to come away from with a victory. They love playing in their own backyard and that will be the deciding factor.
Never under-estimate how important home advantage is at this stage of the tournament.
Sadly, I don't see the Blues getting over this particular hurdle and, unless they really front up in the first 20 minutes, it will be a long afternoon for Young's side.
The Blues are a good side with plenty of quality, sparkle and rugby intelligence. But they have a tendency to play in spasms. You cannot do that in the knockout stages of Europe.
Consistency and discipline are the order of the day.
The likes of Tom Shanklin, GarethThomas, JamieRoberts and Tom James have what it takes to creat9e against any side. But I still have my doubts about the Blues pack being able to deliver against the big guns of Europe.
They have to be able to hold their own against the Toulouse pack, which has a fearsome reputation and, I fear, they aren't up to that kind of examination - yet.
Any betting man would see this as too much of amountain to climb but at least they have reached a Heineken Cup quarter-final and it will be invaluable experience for them.
I desperately hope I have to swallow my words next week, safe in the knowledge that the Blues have proved me wrong.
The Ospreys, however, have it all to play for.
They are Wales' other representative in the tournament and have to be looking to win the whole damn thing.
Saracens will be a tougher proposition this afternoon than they were in the EDF Energy Cup semi-final, but the Ospreys will get through to the last four at the Millennium Stadium.
The leadership of Ryan Jones, our very own Captain Marvel, and Justin Marshall's rugby nous should see them navigate this particular hurdle.
You have to say, the Ospreys are the team to watch in Europe.
They have Marshall, the best over seassigning to come to the UK, and aside full of We lshp layers who have won a Grand Slam.
Their confidence will be sky high and their only enemy in the Heineken Cup is now themselves.
While I see the Blues being knockedout of theHeinekenCup, I firmly believe their football counterparts, CardiffCity, will reachthe FA Cup finalwitha2-0victory over Barnsley
THREAT: Tom Shanklin and the Blues backs have the ability to create chances
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|Publication:||Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)|
|Date:||Apr 6, 2008|
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