Blues not taking Calvisano result for granted
January 20, 2009
Dai Young is determined to see his Blues side to a home draw in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals © Getty Images
Cardiff Blues boss Dai Young is intent on ensuring that his side do not take their eyes off the ball when Calvisano visit the Arms Park in their final Heineken Cup Pool game on Friday.
Following their stunning 16-12 win over Gloucester at Kingsholm on Sunday, the Blues have guaranteed their second successive Heineken Cup quarter-final and now go in pursuit of an all important home-draw, either at the Arms Park or Millennium Stadium in April.
"I'll make sure our mindset is on the job," said Young. "Biarritz Olympique struggled to beat them at the weekend and I know they would love to come and spoil the party. Our attitude is to win first and then start thinking about bonus points - there is still work to be done. For 60 minutes out there in Italy they were in the game and it took some neat moves from us to win the tie."
The Blues know how important a home draw can be after some squandered opportunities against Bristol in last season's final Pool game meant an away trip to Toulouse in the last-eight.
"We know from last season that when you get the chance of a home draw you have to nail it. Two missed opportunities to score tries against Bristol last year really hurt us and made the difference between playing Toulouse in France or Cardiff," Young said.
"I'm not saying we would have beaten Toulouse at home, but we would have had a better chance. Now we have to use the Toulouse game as an experience as we move into another quarter-final."
Young has been careful not to tempt fate by talking of moving any home quarter-final to the Millennium Stadium, a viable option after the success of hosting their Pool match with Gloucester at the national stadium.
"I didn't want to talk about where we might play in the quarter-final until we are there. I don't think it would disadvantage us in any way if we get a home draw and play at the Millennium Stadium, but that is a decision that will be taken above my head.
"As good as the Arms Park is, and we love playing there, we can only get 12,000 into the ground. If we could get 30,000+ at the Millennium Stadium it is something we have to consider. Whoever we get in the quarter-final is going to be difficult. We know we will have to be at our best to go further."
Young's squad is within touching distance of becoming only the second Welsh region to progress through the Heineken Cup group stages unbeaten after the Scarlets in 2006-07.
"We felt that if we could go to Kingsholm and win it would be a big statement about how far we have come. It has taken two to three years to build the strength in depth in this squad. Three seasons ago we wouldn't have been talked about in the same light as Gloucester."
Martyn Williams, stand in skipper at Gloucester, has reiterated Young's beliefs that a home draw will be vital to their chances of progressing, and also hailed Sunday's win as the best since the formation of the Blues in 2003.
"We had a good victory in Bristol last year, but the manner of the win in Gloucester - down to 14 men and coming from behind - in my eyes makes it the best win in Europe since the Blues were formed," he said. "In years gone by we would have fallen to pieces losing players like Ben Blair and Paul Tito before the game. But now we have real strength in depth and the impact the boys made coming off the bench was huge.
"We are in the quarter-finals once again, but we want that home draw. It doesn't really matter if you are ranked No 1 or No 4, but being at home is vital. There is still one game to go and a lot could change this weekend."
HOW THEY QUALIFY FOR THE QUARTER-FINALS
The six Pool winners and two best placed runners-up will qualify for the quarter-finals and will be decided by the following criteria:
(i) the Pool winner will be the Club with the highest number of match points earned in each Pool. The runners-up will be the two second placed Clubs from all six Pools with the next highest number of points. For the quarter-final round, the Pool winners will be ranked 1 - 6 in terms of the number of points earned. The runners-up will be ranked 7 and 8.
CLUBS IN THE SAME POOL
(ii) if two or more Clubs are equal on points and the Clubs are in the same Pool, then qualification / ranking will be based on the matches played between the Clubs concerned:
(a) the Club which has earned the most number of match points from the matches
(b) the Club which has scored the most tries in the matches
(c) the Club with the best aggregate points difference from the matches
CLUBS FROM DIFFERENT POOLS
(iii) if still unresolved, or the teams have not played each other previously in the Pool stage, qualification / ranking will be based on:
(a) the number of tries scored in all Pool matches
(b) aggregate points difference from all Pool matches
(c) the Club with the fewest number of players sent off and / or suspended in all Pool matches
(d) toss of a coin
Teams ranked 1-4 will have home advantage. The quarter-finals will be:
Team 1 v Team 8; Team 2 v Team 7; Team 3 v Team 6; Team 4 v Team 5