Challenge Cup: Sweeney tips Blues to beat Dragons

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Cardiff Blues coach Dale McIntosh talks Groggs in Pontypridd
European Challenge Cup quarter-final: Dragons v Blues
Venue: Rodney Parade, Newport Date: 4 April, 2015 Kick-off: 12:45 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru and the BBC Sport website

Former Wales fly-half Ceri Sweeney says Newport Gwent Dragons' decision to leave number eight Taulupe Faletau on the bench for Saturday's European Challenge Cup quarter-final makes Cardiff Blues favourites.

Dragons boss Lyn Jones also named flanker Nic Cudd as a replacement.

Exeter's Sweeney, 35, said: "Whether Lyn has got a master-plan up his sleeve, I don't know.

"But I'm certainly surprised to see those two boys on the bench."

Sweeney played for both teams in a career that began at Pontypridd and included 35 Wales caps.

Exeter could go on to meet the winners of the all-Welsh tie in the final in May.

Ceri Sweeney joined Exeter in 2013 from Cardiff Blues
Ceri Sweeney joined Exeter in 2013 from Cardiff Blues

Sweeney says Faletau and Cudd's absence from the starting line-up means Blues "will eye that as a bit of an opportunity".

When young Wales backs Cory Allen and Rhys Patchell were ruled out for Blues, Sweeney had felt Dragons were favourites.

They lie ninth in the Pro12 table, one above Blues as the two worst performing Celtic teams in the competition.

"For both of the teams it could make or break their season," said Sweeney of their European encounter.

"They're not going too well in the league so progressing in this tournament would be a real boost."

Exeter host Newcastle in their quarter-final on Saturday night with a semi-final to come for the victors against Gloucester, who beat Connacht on Friday night.

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Warburton & Faletau's stare challenge

The winners of the Dragons-Blues clash will face either London Irish or Edinburgh in the semi-final, which takes place on the weekend of 17-19 April.

NG Dragons: Jason Tovey; Tom Prydie, Pat Leach, Jack Dixon, Hallam Amos; Dorian Jones, Jonathan Evans; Phil Price, T Rhys Thomas (capt), Brok Harris, Andrew Coombs, Cory Hill, James Thomas, James Benjamin, Nick Crosswell.

Replacements: Hugh Gustafson, Lloyd Fairbrother, Dan Way, Taulupe Faletau, Nic Cudd, Luc Jones, Tyler Morgan, Geraint Rhys Jones.

Cardiff Blues: Dan Fish; Alex Cuthbert, Gavin Evans, Tavis Knoyle, Richard Smith; Gareth Anscombe, Lloyd Williams; Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees (capt), Scott Andrews, Jarrad Hoeata, Lou Reed, Josh Turnbull, Sam Warburton, Josh Navidi.

Replacements: Kristian Dacey, Sam Hobbs, Adam Jones, Macauley Cook, Ellis Jenkins, Lewis Jones, Simon Humberstone, Gareth Davies.

Referee: JP Doyle (England)

Assistant referees: Greg Garner (England), Matthew Carley (England).

Fourth Official: Barrie Gregory (Wales)

TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

Citing Commissioner: Shaun Gallagher (England)

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