Preview: Dragons v Cardiff Blues

Date published: September 14 2012

Cardiff Blues have made four changes to their side to face the Dragons, with young full-back Thomas Williams making a first PRO12 start.

Cardiff Blues have made four changes to their side to face the Dragons, with full-back Thomas Williams making his first RaboDirect PRO12 start.

Williams comes in for the injured Leigh Halfpenny while Harry Robinson replaces wing Tom James.

There is a new half-back combination with Rhys Patchell at fly-half, making his PRO12 debut partnering with Lloyd Williams. The Blues also welcome back Jamie Roberts to the matchday 23, with the big Lions centre having worked hard to recover from his knee injury.

There are two changes up front with Marc Breeze starting at hooker and Nathan Trevett at prop in place of Rhys Williams and Benoit Bourrust.

“We have had a good couple of days preparation making sure we continue to improve in all areas of the game,” said director of rugby, Phil Davies.

“We are trying to remain objective across the board and if we have learnt anything from last Friday it would be that we have to be more clinical when we get the line breaks and we have to finish off our scoring opportunities.

“Rodney Parade is a great place to go and play. It has retained its atmosphere from years ago.

“I am sure it will be good, we will have a lot of shouting and excitement down there and we are looking forward to it.

“The Dragons had a great win against the Zebres and then they went to Leinster, where even though they were defeated they played some good rugby.

“Any team that has Lydiate and Faletau playing for them, are going to be a threat.

“They are a good side all round, they have a strong front five and good half backs, they have some good pace on the wing, they are a well balanced team. They are going to be tough components for us.”

Meanwhile, Dragons back-row Dan Lydiate has successfully passed all fitness tests.

The international blindside will help the Dragons welcome the Blues to Rodney Parade for their second home game for the PRO12. He says that even though it was an unfortunate loss last week away from home, the Dragons are ready to take on the Blues.

“It was a disappointing result by the boys from the Leinster game although it was good to see the boys scoring tries against the Leinster side. We are looking for a lot better effort in defence when we play the Blues at home, it's always going to be a tough game but it's also an exciting game because it's a derby match. I am really looking forward to it,” he said.

“It's a massive challenge for us to be playing against the Blues, we will be playing against my teammates who play for Wales, which should be an exciting game and with it being a derby match they are usually quite eventful. So hopefully a lot of our fans will turn up and support us for what could be a really good game of rugby.”

Lydiate stressed that he is ready to play the Blues and is looking forward to playing against many internationals he has played whilst being picked for the Welsh side. He also mentioned that the team has benefitted from watching the Leinster match and have prepared themselves for the battle between the two teams.

“Training has been going really well this week so I am positive that we will do well, and we have improved after last week's performance,” he said.

“A lot of internationals will be playing for the Blues in this game so it will be a massive challenge for us as a team, but it's one of those things where you want to play against a good team in order to better your team. We are here at home and I am sure the Blues will be as up for the game as we are.

“There's no one in particular that I am looking forward to playing against just looking forward to getting back on the pitch, this should be a really good test.”

Form: Dragons suffered a reversal of fortunes after their round one victory with a 25-45 defeat in Leinster. Dragons have won just one of their last six RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures, however the Men from Gwent have won five of their last six matches against fellow Welsh regions at Rodney Parade. Cardiff Blues tripped up at home to Edinburgh on Friday, but at least did win their most recent away game: 13-9 in Connacht in round one. The Blues have won just one of their last eleven games against fellow Welsh sides: 28-9 at home to the Dragons on 23 December 2011. The last four clashes between the two teams have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst the Blues have not won at Rodney Parade since 23 April 2010.

The teams:

Dragons: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Will Harries, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Andy Tuilagi, 11 Tom Prydie, 10 Steffan Jones, 9 Jonathan Evans. 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Lewis Evans (capt), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Adam Jones, 4 Ian Nimmo, 3 Dan Way, 2 Steve Jones, 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Gustafson, 17 Aaron Coundley, 18 Nathan Buck, 19 Jevon Groves, 20 Tom Brown, 21 Liam Davies, 22 Ashley Smith, 23 Adam Hughes.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Thomas Williams, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Gavin Evans, 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 Harry Robinson, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Andries Pretorius (c), 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 James Down, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Marc Breeze, 1 Nathan Trevett.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Benoit Bourrust, 19 Lou Reed, 20 Rory Watts-Jones, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Jamie Roberts.

Date: Saturday, September 15
Kick-off: 18:30 BST
Venue: Rodney Parade
Referee: Neil Hennessy (Wales)
Assistant referees: James Jones (Wales), Wayne Davies (Wales)
Television match official: Nigel Whitehouse (Wales)