Preview: Cardiff Blues v Leinster

Date published: January 6 2012

Cardiff Blues have named their side to take on table topping Leinster in their PRO12 clash at the Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday.

Cardiff Blues have named their side to take on table topping Leinster in their PRO12 clash at the Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday.

Leinster are on a high, after winning their last nine matches in the tournament, while the Blues will look to get back into the play off positions having narrowly lost to Ospreys last week.

The Blues make two changes in the backs with Tom James coming in for Alex Cuthbert, who is out with a minor groin injury. Dan Parks starts at fly-half with Ceri Sweeney moving to the bench.

In the forwards Sam Warburton has recovered from a knock on the ankle and captains the side at openside flank, with Josh Navidi moving to the bench.

Maama Molitika starts on the other flank with Michael Paterson moving to the second row in place of the injured Paul Tito.

Gethin Jenkins starts for the Blues in the front row alongside hooker Marc Breeze and Scott Andrews who started against the Ospreys on New Year's day.

Meanwhile, Jamie Heaslip will lead the Leinster XV which includes 12 Ireland internationals for the trip to the Welsh capital.

Following on from the recent PRO12 inter-provincial derby victories over Ulster and Connacht over the holiday season, Kevin McLaughlin partners Sean O'Brien and Heaslip in the back-row with Cian Healy lining up with Sean Cronin and Mike Ross in the front row.

Eoin Reddan partners Jonathan Sexton at half back, while Gordon D'Arcy returns to the line up to partner Fergus McFadden at centre.

Isa Nacewa is named on a bench alongside the likes of Isaac Boss and Rhys Ruddock.

Form: Cardiff Blues' last seven matches have all been won by the home side on the day. The Blues have been victorious in their last four home games at the City Stadium, but strangely have won just one of their last four matches against the Irish provinces at the venue. Leinster have won their last seven encounters in all competitions, since their 16-16 draw in Montpellier in the European Cup on 12 November. The Leinstermen, who sit proudly atop the RaboDirect PRO12 table, have won their last nine games in the tournament. The Blues' only win over Leinster in their last nine meetings since May 2007 was 11-3 in this equivalent fixture at the City Stadium last season.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Gavin Henson, 14 Leigh Halfpenny, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Tom James, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Xavier Rush, 7 Sam Warburton (c), 6 Maama Molitika, 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Marc Breeze, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Williams, 17 John Yapp, 18 Sam Hobbs, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Richie Rees, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Richard Mustoe.

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Dave Kearney 13 Fergus McFadden, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Andrew Conway, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip (c), 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Damian Browne, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Aaron Dundon, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Rhys Ruddock, 20 Leo Auva'a, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Isa Nacewa, 23 Fionn Carr.

Date: Saturday 7 January
Venue: Cardiff City Stadium
Kick-off: 18.15 GMT
Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR)