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James Down and Cardiff Blues hoping to repeat past Anglo-Welsh heroics

James Down will be one of the more experienced heads in the Cardiff Blues’ Anglo-Welsh opener against Exeter Chiefs and the lock admits the young side are using history as added motivation.

The Blues won this competition back in 2009 when they put Gloucester Rugby to the sword in a 50-12 victory at Twickenham.

Click here for the latest fixtures and results from the Anglo-Welsh Cup

Down, 29, was not part of the side that day but it did include club legends like Paul Tito, Xavier Rush and Ben Blair.

This season the Blues open up at Sandy Park against Exeter Chiefs on Sunday and will include a number of younger academy stars looking to make an impression on head coach Danny Wilson and the rest of the playing squad.

And Down is adamant that this new crop can replicate the achievements of those heroes of 2009 and put some much needed momentum into their inconsistent campaign so far.

“On Monday we spoke about our history in the competition and showed clips of when we won it back in 2009,” said the former London Welsh lock.

“There were some great names in that side like Ben Blair and Paul Tito but there were also some great youngsters in that side, guys like Leigh Halfpenny who were breaking through.

“And we are hoping for something similar this season, a run in this competition can be great for their development and also good for the Blues in general to get some momentum.

“It has been a bit disappointing with the defeats in the derbies but we bounced back well against Treviso, that was a massive win for us and with Connacht coming up it would be good to carry some momentum into it.

“It’s pretty exciting for us, there a lot of young fellas from the academy that have come in, mixed in well and have a great chance to play.

“These are guys that came come in and compete for a place and show the coaches what they can do.

“Seb Davies is a guy looking to play in the back row, for a youngster he is a big athletic guy who can get around the park and has good skills as well.”

Click here for the latest Anglo-Welsh Cup tables and an explanation of the format of the tournament

The trip to Sandy Park will undoubtedly be a tough one for the Blues but the Chiefs are looking to bounce back from defeat against Harlequins in their tournament opener last weekend.

And Down insists he and his teammates are well aware of the threats that Rob Baxter’s side pose – even if some of their first-team stars will likely be rested for the clash.

“Whatever team Exeter put out on the park you know are going to be a good attacking side so defence is going to have to be big for us,” he added.

“They will spread the play so we know we have a big job on our but we will go out there and enjoy it and look to attack when get the ball in our hands.”

The second round of the Anglo-Welsh Cup kicks off this weekend. For full details of the tournament and tickets for the Final at the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday 19 March see www.new-heroes.com

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