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Preview: Cardiff Blues v Leinster

07th February 2013 09:21

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SKY_MOBILE Leo Cullen - Leinster Heineken Cup

Captain: Leo Cullen

Leo Cullen leads a team which shows a blend of youth and experience for Leinster's visit to play Cardiff Blues.

Ian Madigan, who is the PRO12's third top points scorer (91 points) partners Ireland international Isaac Boss - on his 65th Leinster appearance - at half-back with Andrew Goodman lining up at centre alongside Brendan Macken.

Out wide Andrew Conway is joined by Darren Hudson (who makes his eighth senior appearance) and Dave Kearney who is full-back.

Dominic Ryan makes just his third appearance after an injury interrupted season thus far and he completes an exciting back-row alongside Shane Jennings and Jordi Murphy.

Leinster 'A' team skipper Jack McGrath is rewarded with a start in the front row after some compelling form in the British & Irish Cup.

Heinke van der Merwe is named on a bench which includes seven players who are either in, or have come through, the Academy.

Meanwhile, Cardiff are also missing internationals and are being led by centre Gavin Evans.

The Blues face a Leinster side that has won four straight games in all competitions since losing 19-27 to table topping Ulster at Ravenhill in December.

The Leinstermen's only defeat to a Welsh region in their last five encounters in all competitions was 10-19 at Ospreys in November and they have lost just one of their last twelve clashes with the Blues in all tournaments since 2007.

"I think at the end of the day the aim we have, as a region over the next four to five years, is to build a strong squad," said director of rugby Phil Davies.

"I have no doubt that we will be stronger going into the end of this season than we were last year. Next season we will be stronger again.

"Leinster are ahead of us in this process but we are heading in the right direction.

"For me, tomorrow's game has a bit of pride attached to what we have to deliver.

"Over in Dublin it was not a good performance.

"The second half was creditable but the first half we got hammered. I didn't enjoy that. I didn't enjoy the game or what happened afterwards.

"We have to lay a strong marker down on Friday. We have to put in a massive performance against one of the top squads in Europe.

"It is a great challenge for the team. We want to try and win the game and the next few games so we can keep pushing towards the top four."

Form: Cardiff Blues have won their last two RaboDirect PRO12 contests against Dragons and Munster, and have won their last three fixtures at the Arms Park in all competitions. The Blues have lost both previous matches against Irish provinces at the Arms Park this season. Leinster have won four straight games in all competitions since losing 19-27 to table topping Ulster at Ravenhill on 21 December. The Leinstermen's only defeat to a Welsh region in their last five encounters in all competitions was 10-19 at Ospreys in the RaboDirect PRO12 on 4 November. Leinster have lost just one of their last twelve clashes with the Blues in all tournaments since 2007: 3-11 at Cardiff City Stadium in the PRO12 on 19 February 2011.

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Jason Tovey, 14 Owen Williams, 13 Gavin Evans (capt), 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 Harry Robinson, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Rory Watts-Jones, 6 Michael Paterson, 5 James Down, 4 Macauley Cook, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Rhys Williams, 1 Sam Hobbs.
Replacements: 16 Marc Breeze, 17 Nathan Trevett, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Luke Hamilton, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Alex Walker, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Richard Smith.

Leinster: 15 Dave Kearney, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Brendan Macken, 12 Andrew Goodman, 11 Darren Hudson, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jordi Murphy, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Dominic Ryan, 5 Tom Denton, 4 Leo Cullen, 3 Michael Bent, 2 Aaron Dundon, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Thomas Sexton, 17 Heinke Van Der Merwe, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Ben Marshall, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 John Cooney, 22 Noel Reid, 23 Fionn Carr.

Date: Friday, February 8
Kick-off: 19:30
Venue: Arms Park
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon

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