Preview: Cardiff Blues v Ospreys

14th Apr 2012, 13:06

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John Yapp: Replaces Gethin Jenkins

John Yapp: Replaces Gethin Jenkins

Cardiff Blues have made five changes to their starting line-up ahead of Saturday's PRO12 derby against the Ospreys in Cardiff.

Cardiff Blues have made five changes to their starting line-up ahead of Saturday's PRO12 derby against the Ospreys in Cardiff.

There are three changes in the backs to the team that lost to Leinster, with Harry Robinson returning from Wales Sevens duties to start on the wing in place of Tom James, who is out with a neck injury.

Gavin Evans, who this week announced he has signed a new two-year deal with the Blues, starts at outside centre with Casey Laulala moving to the bench. Ceri Sweeney starts at fly-half with Dan Parks also moving to the bench.

There are two changes in the forwards with John Yapp replacing Gethin Jenkins who is out with a shoulder injury and Luke Hamilton, who makes his RaboDirect debut, starting at number eight instead of Xavier Rush who is out with a neck injury. There is no place for Chris Czekaj in the matchday squad.

The Blues will be looking to get back to winning ways and take on an Ospreys side that have won their last two games in the competition against Leinster and Treviso.

Cardiff Blues' back-line coach, Gareth Baber, expects a tough challenge from the Ospreys.

"This weekend's match is sure to be another heated Welsh derby with the Ospreys looking to get a win that will keep them in the top two of the RaboDirect PRO12 table," he said.

"Knowing this and the frustration from not having a long run of wins behind us has really motivated the team this week to play a good game.

"The Ospreys have a great group of players and we know it will be a tough battle.

"However, we will be looking for a big response from the Blues players."

Meanwhile, Ospreys fly-half Dan Biggar makes his 100th appearance for the region while Richard Fussell plays in his 50th match.

Despite being without the services of stalwarts like Tommy Bowe, Ashley Beck, Huw Bennett and Duncan Jones through injury coach Steve Tandy is confident that his side will do well.

"We've had a couple of good weeks and some great results with the wins in Leinster and against Treviso, but we've got to make sure we back that up on Saturday, and in the remaining games after that," he said.

"Make no mistake about it, the Blues are a good team with quality across the park and threats in every position.

"We know it's going to be a tough evening, with the extra pressures that come with derby games, but we've got to be thorough with our preparation and the attention to detail come game time has to be absolutely spot on.

"The target for us first and foremost is to make the play-offs and to do that we need to make sure our performances in these last few weeks are of the highest standard.

"We've shown signs of what we are capable of but there's still plenty of room for improvement and that's what I'm looking for.

"We want our fans to be proud of us. It's their region and we want them behind us all the way. For that to happen, we've got to continue showing the endeavour and heart we've shown in recent weeks.

"If we can do that on Saturday, we'll get our rewards, and then we can look forward to coming back to the Liberty the following Friday to a big crowd, and say farewell to Shane (Williams) in real style," added Tandy.

Form: Cardiff Blues have lost their last four games in all competitions, whilst Blues have won just one encounter with a fellow Welsh region since New Year 2011, a 28-9 over Dragons at the City Stadium. Ospreys have won their last two games in the RaboDirect PRO12 against Leinster and Treviso. Ospreys have won two of their last three away matches, but have not beaten a fellow Welsh side in their own back yard in the tournament since a trip to Scarlets in October 2010. Blues have not beaten Ospreys since New Year's Eve 2010.

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Gavin Evans, 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 Harry Robinson, 10 Ceri Sweeney, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Luke Hamilton, 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Michael Paterson, 5 James Down, 4 Bradley Davies (c), 3 Sam Hobbs, 2 Marc Breeze, 1 John Yapp.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Nathan Trevett, 18 Ryan Harford, 19 Josh Navidi, 20 Maama Molitika, 21 Richie Rees, 22 Dan Parks, 23 Casey Laulala.

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 Tom Isaacs, 12 Andrew Bishop, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Joe Bearman, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Ryan Jones, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 James King, 20 Tom Smith, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Sonny Parker.

Date: Saturday, 14 April
Venue: Cardiff City Stadium
Kick-off: 18:30
Referee: George Clancy