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Preview: Cardiff Blues v Munster

01st November 2012 12:12

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tom james cardiff blues

Bouncing back: Tom James

Cardiff Blues take on Munster this Friday and are looking to make amends from their performance against Leinster last weekend.

"It was clear for all to see that last weekend's game against Leinster wasn't a very positive night for us," said Cardiff boss Phil Davies.

"We all knew when we started in June that it would be a massive challenge.

"Looking at the game we have ahead of us, Munster, regardless of what fifteen they put on the pitch they are going to be hard and uncompromising up-front.

"I suspect that they will have BJ Botha and Marcus Horan in the front row, who are both extremely experienced players. Casey Laulala, is always a threat and is likely to start, but we are looking forward to facing him on our home ground.

"Both sides have got a new coaching group who are trying to develop and change. Supporters can look forward to a very competitive match, as it always is against Munster."

Meanwhile with most of his international contingent unavailable, Rob Penney once again rings the changes for Munster's game at the Arms Park on Friday.

One of those however who was released from the Carton camp was Ronan O'Gara who returns from injury to take his place on the starting XV alongside Duncan Williams with Ian Keatley moving sideways to the number 12 jersey.

Doug Howlett, rested for the Zebre game is back in his familiar wing berth while Felix Jones naturally retains the number 15 jersey knowing that a good performance at the Arms Park could propel him into the Irish squad though he refused to contemplate that scenario.

"My focus is purely on the game against Cardiff Blues," he said,

"I have no control of issues beyond that and just need to concentrate on this game on Friday."

Up front, Marcus Horan is the one change in the front-row but there's a new combination of Dave Foley and Billy Holland in the second row while Sean Dougall returns to the openside flank and Tommy O'Donnell wears the number 8 jersey for the first time at senior level.

Form: Cardiff Blues have suffered five straight defeats in all competitions - their worst run since season 2004/05. Since they returned to the Arms Park at the start of the season the Blues have won just once there: 34-18 over Treviso in the RaboDirect PRO12 on 22 September. Munster have won their last two encounters against Edinburgh in the European Cup and Zebre, however away from home the Munstermen have lost their last four games since their visit to Edinburgh on the opening weekend in the PRO12. Munster have won their last four fixtures with Cardiff Blues, but have only been victorious at the Arms Park in this tournament once before: 18-16 on 4 November 2005. Munster are winless in their last three trips to Wales.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish,14 Tom Williams, 13 Gavin Evans, 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 Tom James, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Andries Pretorius (c), 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Robin Copeland, 5 James Down, 4 Lou Reed, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Rhys Williams, 1 Campese Ma'afu.
Replacements: 16 Andi Kyriacou, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Ryan Harford, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Luke Hamilton, 21 Rob Lewis, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Owen Williams.

Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Doug Howlett (c), 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Ian Keatley, 11 Luke O'Dea, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 Tommy O'Donnell, 7 Sean Dougall, 6 Dave O'Callaghan, 5 Billy Holland, 4 Dave Foley, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Mike Sherry, 1 Marcus Horan.
Replacements: 16 Damian Varley, 17 John Ryan, 18 Wian du Preez, 19 Ian Nagle, 20 Patrick Butler, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Danny Barnes, 23 Johne Murphy.

Date: Friday, November 2
Venue: Cardiff Arms Park
Kick-off: 19:05 (GMT)
Referee: Andrew McMenemy

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