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Last Updated: Friday, 1 December 2006, 09:13 GMT
Blues vow to storm to semi-finals
Cardiff Blues and Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips
Phillips has targeted a big December with the Blues
Scrum-half Mike Phillips says Cardiff Blues are over their big-game woes and ready to fire past London Irish.

"We've put our demons behind us this season, it's a new squad and we've gelled together well," said Phillips.

"There've been big wins over Wasps, Saracens and Bourgoin and home advantage will be a huge boost."

An Arms Park draw would guarantee them an EDF Energy Cup semi-final place as they top Group B, four points ahead of the Exiles and five in front of Wasps.

It's a tempting carrot dangling in front of our face and we've got to step forward and seize it

Blues captain Xavier Rush

"The team hasn't been getting to semi-finals in recent years and it's nice to be targeting that sort of thing for a change," Blues captain Xavier Rush told BBC Sport Wales.

"London Irish have quality players and one of the best line-outs in Europe.

"That will pose us problems, but we'll fancy ourselves in other areas.

"It's a tempting carrot dangling in front of our face and we've got to step forward and seize it."

Four Welsh players return to the Blues starting XV with another, Tom Shanklin, on the bench.

I hope to shine over Christmas and push hard for a starting place in the Six Nations

Mike Phillips

Wales half-back Phillips has admitted that the schedule is tiring, but he sees a big December fixture list as the ideal chance to press his case to become the country's first-choice number nine ahead of Dwayne Peel.

"I did my best when I got a chance in the November Tests," Phillips told BBC Sport Wales.

"Now I hope to shine over Christmas and push hard for a starting place in the Six Nations.

"The scrum-half position is very competitive with Peel, but it's the same throughout the Wales team.

"Everything's looking good - apart from last week's 45-10 loss to New Zealand!

"I don't think that's a fair reflection of where the Wales game stands."

SEE ALSO
Blues v London Irish (Fri)
30 Nov 06 |  Cardiff Blues
BBC Sport Wales coverage
01 May 06 |  Wales
EDF Energy Anglo-Welsh Cup 2006/7
24 Jul 06 |  Rugby Union
Anglo-Welsh Cup archive
24 Jul 06 |  Welsh


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