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Davies: Warburton making progress

Cardiff Blues boss Phil Davies has delivered an encouraging fitness update on Wales captain Sam Warburton ahead of this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship.

The Blues flanker has not played since Wales lost at home to Australia in late November because of a shoulder injury.

He missed the 19-13 Heineken Cup home defeat against Exeter on Saturday, with defending Six Nations champions Wales now just a fortnight away from kicking off their title defence at home to Italy.

But there is a possibility that Warburton might have a run-out when the Blues tackle LV= Cup opponents Bath next weekend.

"He has made great progression, that's for sure," Davies said.

"I've spoken to Warren (Wales coach Warren Gatland). We want to make sure we do the best for Sam, really.

"He is not far away now, but he is in a position where we have just got to be really sure that it's 100 per cent.

"That might be next week, the week after or whatever the case might be. He's a lot closer than he was previously. It's days, and maybe a week or so.

"He could play in one of the next two games, possibly. We will see."

Although the Blues were beaten by Exeter, a losing bonus point meant they finished second in Pool Two and they could progress into the second-tier Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals as one of three best second-placed Heineken teams.

The Chiefs, who had already been eliminated, triumphed through 14 points from fly-half Gareth Steenson and an early Dave Armand try, while Wales wing Alex Cuthbert touched down for the Blues, with Leigh Halfpenny kicking two penalties and a conversion.

"Exeter started like a train, to be fair to them, but we slowly crept back into the game by half-time," Davies said.

"We didn't quite take the opportunities, which was a shame. We just didn't have that little bit of control and Exeter won a couple of key moments in the second half. Credit to them.

"We have got to rely on other people in terms of the Amlin, but with what has gone on this season with the way the squad has been disrupted on occasions, it's great credit to the players that we have still got an opportunity.

"If we are in the Amlin quarter-finals, then brilliant."

Exeter were left to reflect on a testing European campaign that saw Heineken Cup holders Toulon among their opponents, but head coach Rob Baxter has been encouraged by the overall picture.

"I was really pleased with our endeavour to compete for everything today," he said.

"I am probably a little disappointed the game was as tight as it was. We had a dominant set-piece for pretty much the whole game and we didn't capitalise on that really.

"This has been our second Heineken Cup campaign and we have collected more points in the pool than we did last year.

"We've beaten Cardiff home and away, we got points out of Glasgow in both games, we got points out of Toulon at home. We are taking some steps forward.

"I am not going to look back and have regrets. The way the lads have performed has been fantastic.

"It probably turned for us on us not finishing Toulon off at home (in December) when we had them by the scruff of the neck."


From Belfast Telegraph