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Preview: Cardiff Blues v Ospreys

28th March 2013 16:33

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Leigh Halfpenny Cardiff Blues

Starter: Leigh Halfpenny

Cardiff Blues director of rugby Phil Davies has selected his side to face the Ospreys at this Saturday's double header encounter.

Cardiff Blues have been undefeated in their last three visits to the national stadium, with a 37-24 win over Gloucester in the 2008/09 Heineken Cup pool match in front of 27,000 supporters, followed by a 9-6 quarter final win over Toulouse the same year in front of 36,728 supporters.

The Blues last played in the Millennium Stadium in May 2009 in a thrilling 26-26 draw with Leicester Tigers in the Heineken Cup semi final. The match, which was watched by a record 44,000 fans, went into extra time before a penalty shoot out saw the Blues eliminated from the competition.

The Blues now face an Ospreys side who are challenging for a top four place and whose sole defeat in their last nine RaboDirect PRO12 matches since November was 10-22 to Connacht in Galway in round 15.

Ospreys only two previous visits to the Millennium Stadium were both semi-final encounters in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, in 2007 and 2008, winning them both, against Cardiff Blues and Saracens respectively.

It will be a challenge for the Blues who will be looking to regain some form having slipped to three straight defeats in the RaboDirect PRO12 since their 17-16 victory against Edinburgh at Murrayfield in February. And have not beaten Ospreys since a 27-25 victory at the City Stadium on New Year's Eve 2010.

"We've got plenty to play for and playing at the Millennium Stadium just gives it that extra edge," said Blues director of rugby Phil Davies.

"Coming off the back of Wales winning the Six Nations championship is great and hopefully it's an occasion that can showcase the regional game in Wales.

"Facing the Ospreys is a challenge and we've certainly not performed to the standards we have aspired to, we have performed well, but we are coming up against arguably the best pack in the competition.

"It's not going to be easy but it's a challenge we are looking forward to and we will be making it a challenge for the Ospreys as well.

"We have to work well as a collective unit. There will be some outstanding players on display and there will be some intriguing battles all over the pitch.

"A lot of players know each other well but at the end of the day it's about Cardiff Blues v Ospreys."

Form: Cardiff Blues have slipped to three straight defeats in the RaboDirect PRO12 since their 17-16 victory against Edinburgh at Murrayfield 15th February. The Blues are unbeaten in their last three matches at the Millennium Stadium, which were all the in Eurpean Cup, and won 40-31 against Leinster on their only previous encounter there in the PRO12, in May 2006. The Blues only two wins in their last nine contests with fellow Welsh regions in the competiton have both been against Newport Gwent Dragons. Ospreys' sole defeat in their last nine RaboDirect PRO12 matches since November was 10-22 to Connacht in Galway in round 15. Ospreys only two previous visits to the Millennium Stadium were both semi-final encounters in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, in 2007 and 2008, winning them both, against Cardiff Blues and Saracens respectively. Ospreys have won their last seven clashes with fellow Welsh regions in the PRO12. Cardiff Blues have not beaten Ospreys since a 27-25 victory at the City Stadium on New Year's Eve 2010.

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Owen Williams, 13 Gavin Evans (c), 12 Dafydd Hewitt,11 Harry Robinson, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Luke Hamilton, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Michael Paterson, 5 Lou Reed, 4 Filo Paulo , 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Marc Breeze, 1 Sam Hobbs.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Taufa'ao Filise, 19 Robin Copeland, 20 Rory Watts-Jones, 21 Lewis Jones ,22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Gareth Davies.

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Tom Habberfield, 13 Jonathan Spratt, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Tom Isaacs, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Jonathan Thomas, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 James King, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Ryan Bevington
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 Lloyd Peers, 20 Joe Bearman, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Ben John

Date: Saturday, March 30
Venue: Millennium Stadium
Kick-off: 5:15pm
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)
Assistant referees: Ian Davies, Wayne Davies (WRU)
TMO: Nigel Whitehouse (WRU)

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