Planet Rugby

Preview: Cardiff Blues v Ulster

28th March 2014 11:49

Share:

Matthew Rees Cardiff Blues 2013

Comeback: Matthew Rees

Inspirational hooker Matthew Rees makes his eagerly-anticipated return to rugby as Cardiff Blues face Ulster Rugby in at the Arms Park on Saturday.

Rees - affectionately known across the rugby world as Smiler - has been out of action since October having taking an enforced period away from the sport to receive cancer treatment.

But after being given the all-clear to return to full training last month, the former Wales' international is set for his first appearance in over five months after being named among the replacements to face high-flying Ulster.

Blues make a total of seven changes to the starting line-up that lost to Ospreys as they hunt a winning finale on home soil this season.

Samoa international centre Isaia Tuifua is called up to join forces with Cory Allen in midfield while Chris Czekaj is named on the wing. Harry Robinson misses the game after picking up an ankle injury against Ospreys.

Scrum-half Lewis Jones is handed a starting spot and will combine with Gareth Davies at half back.

Hooker Kristian Dacey and lock Lou Reed, who makes his 100th appearances in the PRO12, are the new faces in the front five.

The final change to the starting line-up sees Macauley Cook named at blindside flanker. Cook will join forces with Josh Navidi and Robin Copeland, who makes his 50th appearance for Blues, in the back row.

Rees, Thomas Davies and James Down are among those given a call-up to the replacements bench.

"We were not happy with the manner of last week's performance and we need to make sure we react in the right way. We have to do justice to the jersey, show how much last week hurt and perform in our final home game at the Arms Park," said coach Dale McIntosh.

"We need to be mentally prepared and ready. We say goodbye to the Arms Park for another season and we do not want to end on a sour note.

"Every game is massive to me, you put in a huge effort and the best performance you possible can. But as our last game at the Arms Park we want to put in a big display for our fans.

"Having Matthew (Rees) back is a huge inspiration to us all," he added. "I am sure he will get a fantastic reception and he is a humble lad who will deal with it and get on with it. But I know how keen he is to get back out on the field and get that Blues jersey on his back."

Meanwhile, loosehead prop Tom Court will make his 150th appearance for Ulster.

Court starts in the front-row alongside hooker Rob Herring and tighthead prop John Afoa.

Johann Muller captains Ulster in the second-row where he is joined by Dan Tuohy, who makes his first start since breaking his arm playing for Ireland in February.

Stephen Ferris is picked at blindside, with Nick Williams named at number eight and Chris Henry, who is playing his first game for Ulster since winning the Six Nations with Ireland, selected at openside.

Andrew Trimble, also back for Ulster after Ireland's Six Nations win, starts on the left. Michael Heaney continues at scrum-half in place of the injured Ruan Pienaar.

Ulster Head Coach, Mark Anscombe, has picked six forwards on the bench. Rory Best and Roger Wilson are rested for the game.

Form: Cardiff Blues have lost their last five PRO12 matches equalling their worst ever run in the competition. The Blues only victory in their last nine fixtures with Irish provinces was 21-10 over Connacht at the Arms Park in round 2 this season. Ulster have won their last eight matches in all tournaments although their 9-3 victory at Edinburgh on Friday was only the third time in the history of the tournament that Ulster have won a game without scoring a try. The Ulstermen have lost on two of their last three visits to Wales whilst the Blues only victory in their last seven encounters with Ulster was 21-14 at the Arms Park in February 2012.

The teams:

Cardiff: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Isaia Tuifua, 11 Chris Czekaj, 10 Gareth Davies, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Robin Copeland 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Macauley Cook, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Lou Reed, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Gethin Jenkins (c).
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 James Down, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Simon Humberstone, 23 Gavin Evans

Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Michael Heaney, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Chis Henry, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Dan Tuohy , 4 Johann Muller (c), 3 John Afoa, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Tom Court
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Ricky Lutton 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Robbie Diack, 21 Sean Doyle, 22 Paul Marshall, 23 Craig Gilroy

Date: Saturday 29th March
Venue: Arms Park
Kick-off: 1830 (local & GMT)
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Ita)
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris, Sean Brickell (both Wal)
TMO: Huw Lewis (Wal)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 5
Northampton vs Gloucester19:45
Saturday , September 6
Saracens vs Wasps14:00
Sale vs Bath14:00
Leicester vs Newcastle15:00
London Irish vs Harlequins16:30
Sunday , September 7
London Welsh vs Exeter14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Rugby Championship
Saturday , September 6
New Zealand vs Argentina08:35
Australia vs South Africa11:05
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 5
Ospreys vs Benetton Treviso19:35
Munster vs Edinburgh19:35
Saturday , September 6
Scarlets vs Ulster14:40
Connacht vs Newport Gwent D'gons17:00
Glasgow vs Leinster17:15
Sunday , September 7
Zebre vs Cardiff Blues17:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 5
Montpellier vs Castres20:45
Saturday , September 6
Brive vs Toulouse14:45
Clermont Auvergne vs Racing Metro Paris17:00
Lyon vs Oyonnax18:30
Stade Francais vs Bayonne18:30
Grenoble vs La Rochelle18:30
Toulon vs Bordeaux-Begles20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 5
Western Province vs Eastern Province Kings19:10
Saturday , September 6
Cheetahs vs Pumas15:00
Sharks vs Griquas17:05
Blue Bulls vs Lions19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Sunday , August 31
Taranaki 41 - 3 Bay Of PlentyTaranaki vs Bay Of Plenty Report
Auckland 16 - 16 TasmanAuckland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Saturday , August 30
La Rochelle 37 - 25 ToulouseLa Rochelle vs Toulouse Report
Grenoble 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles
Oyonnax 33 - 6 Stade Francais
Castres 30 - 6 BayonneCastres vs Bayonne Report
Racing Metro Paris 17 - 10 ToulonRacing Metro Paris vs Toulon Report
Lyon 24 - 6 Brive
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 25 - 36 CheetahsGriquas vs Cheetahs Report
Eastern Province Kings 22 - 41 LionsEastern Province Kings vs Lions Report
Blue Bulls 18 - 23 Western ProvinceBlue Bulls vs Western Province Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Counties Manukau 21 - 27 Hawkes BayCounties Manukau vs Hawkes Bay Report
Southland 22 - 33 Otago
North Harbour 16 - 22 WaikatoNorth Harbour vs Waikato Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 29
Clermont Auvergne 20 - 21 MontpellierClermont Auvergne vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Pumas 32 - 22 SharksPumas vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Wellington 21 - 27 ManawatuWellington vs Manawatu Report
Thursday , August 28
Canterbury 48 - 3 NorthlandCanterbury vs Northland Report
Wednesday, August 27
Waikato 17 - 46 TaranakiWaikato vs Taranaki Report
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu 7 - 35 AucklandManawatu vs Auckland Report
Bay Of Plenty 27 - 56 TasmanBay Of Plenty vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand 51 - 20 AustraliaNew Zealand vs Australia Report
Argentina 31 - 33 South AfricaArgentina vs South Africa Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Brive 6 - 21 Clermont AuvergneBrive vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 38 - 12 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00