Preview: Cardiff Blues v Dragons

Date published: April 15 2016

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Wales international Kristian Dacey returns to Cardiff Blues' starting line-up for their must-win PRO12 clash with the Dragons on Sunday.

Dacey replaces Matthew Rees, who drops to the bench, as Danny Wilson makes two changes for the Welsh derby at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park.

Elsewhere Jarrad Hoeata starts in the second-row with Josh Turnbull moving to number eight and Josh Navidi named among the replacements.

Wilson’s side are aiming to finish the season with a hat-trick of wins to have the best possible chance of a top six finish in the league.

But the Cardiff Blues head coach is under no illusions of the magnitude of the task at hand.

"Dragons at home is a massive game especially off the back of a huge win for them and then it’s the Ospreys at the Principality Stadium, another derby," he said.

“They are great games to play at the end of the season when you have something to fight for.

“We’re not playing to make up the numbers, we genuinely have an opportunity to finish in the top six. If we do it will be a massive achievement considering the way the season started.”

The Blues claimed a 21-20 victory the last time the two sides met and are on the back of three consecutive PRO12 triumphs.

They secured a 28-22 victory over the Scarlets in west Wales in their last fixture and Wilson is pleased with the way his side are progressing.

He added: “It was a day where it all came together but it wasn’t unique in being a one off.

“If you look at our attacking game over the last few weeks, we have scored some great tries against Treviso, Munster and Ulster, not poor teams, but the pleasing thing was we did it away from home.

“That’s the next step for us, we needed to accept things would take time and there will still be bumps in the road.

“We have hit a bit of form recently but we’re not hiding away from the fact that this league is full of very good teams and anyone can beat anyone on their day.

“We’re taking steps in the right direction and we still have a long way to go.

“We have to take the highs with the lows but if we can keep this form going for the rest of the season and into the next then brilliant.”

Blaine Scully (hand), Alex Cuthbert (knee), Cory Allen (ankle), Chris Dicomidis (ankle) and Sam Hobbs (shoulder) are all unavailable for selection.

Meanwhile, Dragons head coach Kingsley Jones has made no changes to the team that booked their place in the semi-finals of the European Rugby Challenge Cup.

The back three include full-back Carl Meyer alongside wingers Adam Hughes and Hallam Amos. The centre partnership sees Adam Warren and Tyler Morgan combine while fly-half Dorian Jones gets the nod alongside South African scrum-half Sarel Pretorius.

The front-row includes props Phil Price and Brok Harris; Elliot Dee is named at hooker. The second-row remains unchanged as Rynard Landman and Nick Crosswell are named.

Further back, Lewis Evans and flanker Nic Cudd are alongside Taulupe Faletau in the back-row.

There is one change made to the replacements bench as Lloyd Fairbrother replaces Shaun Knight. Fairbrother is named alongside fellow substitutions Rhys Buckley, Boris Stankovich, Matthew Screech, Ed Jackson, Charlie Davies, Angus O’Brien and Geraint Rhys Jones.

Form: Cardiff Blues have won their last three Guinness PRO12 matches since tripping up at Glasgow on 6 March. The Blues only home defeat in any tournament since November was by a single point to Leinster in the PRO12 on 20 February. Newport Gwent Dragons have lost their last seven Guinness PRO12 matches since beating Leinster at Rodney Parade on 29 January. Dragons have not won away from home in the competition since a trip to Treviso in March 2015. Cardiff Blues beat Dragons 21-20 in round 10 and have not achieved a PRO12 season's double over their closest neighbours since 2012/13. Dragons won 23-17 on their most recent visit to BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Boxing Day 2014.

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Rhys Patchell, 14 Dan Fish, 13 Garyn Smith, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Tom James, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Josh Turnbull, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Ellis Jenkins, 5 James Down, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Taufa’ao Filise, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Gethin Jenkins (c)
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Manoa Vosawai, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Harri Millard, 23 Aled Summerhill

Dragons: 15 Carl Meyer, 14 Adam Hughes, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Adam Warren, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Dorian Jones, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Lewis Evans (c), 5 Nick Crosswell, 4 Rynard Landman, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Phil Price
Replacements: 16 Rhys Buckley, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Ed Jackson, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Angus O'Brien, 23 Geraint Rhys Jones

Date: Sunday, April 17
Venue: Cardiff Arms Park
Kick-off: 14:30 BST (13:30 GMT)
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Leighton Hodges (Wales), Gwyn Morris (Wales)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (WRU)

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