Lydiate comes in for Tipuric

Date published: February 23 2016

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Wales have named wing Alex Cuthbert, lock Bradley Davies and flanker Dan Lydiate in their starting XV that will face France on Friday.

Cuthbert, who has scored 15 tries in his 40 outings for Wales, comes back into the starting line-up for Tom James and is the only change in the backline. The Cardiff Blues wing will form a back three alongside George North and Liam Williams.

The half-back and midfield partnerships remain the same with Gareth Davies and Dan Biggar named at scrum-half and fly-half respectively and Jamie Roberts partnering Jonathan Davies in the centre.

It is an unchanged front-row with Rob Evans, Scott Baldwin and Samson Lee packing down for a third consecutive match together.

Davies, who won his 50th Test cap against Ireland in the opening match of the championship, comes into the second-row to start alongside Alun Wyn Jones. Luke Charteris, who started the first two games of the Six Nations, misses out with knee injury.

In the back-row Lydiate returns to the starting side and the number six jersey, with Justin Tipuric moving to the bench and captain Sam Warburton moving back to openside. Taulupe Faletau completes the trio at number eight.

"We have made a couple of changes, one injury enforced with Luke (Charteris) missing out with a knee injury, but Bradley (Davies) deserves a starting spot as well so it's a good opportunity for him," said Wales head coach Warren Gatland.

"We have made two other personnel changes with Alex (Cuthbert) and Dan (Lydiate) coming into the starting team. They have trained well and will suit the game France will potentially bring as well.

"We initially thought we would have to wait until later in the week to have a final update on injuries, but we know where we are earlier than expected and have told the squad today, hence announcing today as well.

"It's set to be another huge Six Nations weekend, France come to Cardiff unbeaten in the campaign so far and impressing under Guy (Noves). We are looking to continue our unbeaten run and will be looking for another step up after the victory over Scotland."

There are two personnel changes amongst the replacements with Jake Ball coming into the matchday 23 alongside Tipuric. Ken Owens, Gethin Jenkins and Tomas Francis continue to provide the front-row cover and the backline replacements remain the same with Lloyd Williams, Rhys Priestland and Gareth Anscombe all named.

Ahead of another weekend of thrilling Six Nations action, we have collaborated with Betsafe once again to write a preview for the third round of fixtures, which also includes predictions from former New Zealand captain Sean Fitzpatrick too.

Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Rob Evans
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Gethin Jenkins, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Gareth Anscombe

Date: Friday, February 26
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 20:05 GMT
Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU)
Assistant Referees: JP Doyle (RFU), Luke Pearce (RFU)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (SARU)

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