Preview: Cardiff Blues v Ulster

Date published: September 27 2012

Ulster have named Tommy Bowe on the wing for their trip to Cardiff, which is their first rugby action since the recent death of Nevin Spence.

Ulster have named Tommy Bowe on the wing for their trip to Cardiff Blues, which is their first rugby action since the recent death of Nevin Spence.

Mark Anscombe has continued the rotation policy which has served his side so well since the start of his tenure. The New Zealander has made five personnel changes and a further three positional switches to the starting line-up which started in the 20-19 home win over Munster two weeks ago.

Bowe will start in his familiar position of right wing, with Andrew Trimble switching to the left to accommodate him. As a result, Michael Allen moves into outside centre and Darren Cave shifts in to fill the number twelve jersey worn by Luke Marshall in the first three games of the season.

Scrum-half Paul Marshall, fly-half Paddy Jackson and full-back Jared Payne have all retained their places from the Munster match.

Up front, captain Johann Muller has picked up a knock and is replaced in the second-row by Neil McComb. Ireland lock Dan Tuohy will make his first appearance of the season after being named alongside McComb in the engine room. Fellow international Chris Henry will also play for the first time this season and will captain in the absence of Muller. Stephen Ferris has been rested so Iain Henderson joins Henry and Nick Williams in the back-row.

Meanwhile, Bradley Davies will make his 100th appearance for the Blues on Friday.

The Blues go into the match with confidence, with their only defeat in the opening four rounds a 19-21 loss at home to Edinburgh in round two.

“Friday I think will be our sternest test against the Heineken Cup finalists,” said coach Phil Davies.

“It's going to be Ulster's first game back since the tragic news they received a fortnight ago about Nevin Spence.

“We are paying due respect to the situation Ulster are in and how they feel by matching that emotion and that level of performance.

“Hopefully we will have a great game as a tribute to a great rugby player and a great Ulsterman.”

On Davies becoming a centurion, Davies added words of praise for the powerful lock.

“Bradley was one of the first players to have come through the system at the Blues, playing age grade rugby for Blues North and Under 18's before joining the Blues academy,” he said.

“He has gone on to perform consistently for the Blues as well as for Wales and I'm sure it's a big day for him.

“Bradley is one of the stalwarts of the Cardiff Blues and I'd like to congratulate him on reaching a landmark 100 games for the region.”

Rugby Union betting odds

Form: Cardiff Blues only defeat in the opening four rounds of this season's RaboDirect PRO12 was 19-21 at home to Edinburgh in round two. The Blues have won just two of their last five home games, but have been victorious in their last two home fixtures with Irish provinces. Ulster return to action following the tragic circumstances of last week's postponement of the clash with Zebre in Italy. The Ulstermen have won all three PRO12 encounters so far this season, whilst their only defeat in their last five clashes with Welsh regions came in this equivalent fixture last season. Each side won its respective home game when the two teams met last campaign, whilst Ulster's only win at the Arms Park since 2003 came on 9 September 2005.

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Harry Robinson, 13 Dafydd Hewitt, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tom James, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Andries Pretorius (c), 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Robin Copeland, 5 James Down, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Andi Kyriacou, 1 Nathan Trevett.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Williams, 17 Campese Ma'afu, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Lou Reed, 20 Rory Watts-Jones, 21 Rob Lewis, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 Tom Williams.

Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Michael Allen, 12 Darren Cave, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Chris Henry (c), 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Neil McComb, 3 John Afoa, 2 Nigel Brady, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Callum Black, 18 Adam Macklin, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Mike McComish, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Paddy Wallace, 23 Craig Gilroy.

Date: Friday, September 28
Kick-off: 19:05 BST
Venue: Cardiff Arms Park
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Ian Davies (Wales)
Television match official: Neil Ballard (Wales)