Planet Rugby

Preview: Ulster v Cardiff Blues

08th May 2008 09:04

Share:

Young wingers Roger Davies and Leigh Halfpenny will make their debuts for the Cardiff Blues this Friday in the final Magners League match of the season against Ulster at Ravenhill.

Cardiff Blues have already secured their position as top placed Welsh team in the Magners League this season, and with a four-point cushion ahead of Munster, a win against Ulster will cement their place as runners-up in the final league pecking order.

Cardiff Blues line-up shows wholesale changes to the team that recorded a bonus point win against Connacht in Galway last Friday with Nick Robinson, Xavier Rush, Scott Morgan, Maama Molitika and Fao Filise the only players to keep their starting berths.

Roger Davies and Leigh Halfpenny were both on the scoresheet in Wednesday's Principality Premiership regional derby win for Cardiff against Pontypridd. In addition Bradley Davies, Ben White and Dafydd Hewitt all return to the starting XV.

"The margin of the win was pleasing last week, and the boys were disappointed to let in a last minute try," said Cardiff Blues Director of Rugby Dai Young.

"Overall this season has been a big step forward for us. We won two out of three in the EDF, reached the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup and are the best are the best placed Welsh region in the Magners League. We've already stared to look at areas where we can improve.

"We are all hands to the pump at the minute with the Wales call-ups and also with injuries, so we are down to what we have got left.

"We haven't trained much this week either because of our lack of numbers. However it's nice to see two youngsters coming in on the wing. They have both played well for Cardiff this season and deserve their chance."

Meanwhile, David Humphreys will start in the last game of his professional career.

The Ulster and Ireland legend has been plagued with injuries this season and after being picked for his final game remarked: "I am delighted to be playing tomorrow night at Ravenhill, it's great to get a final opportunity to play for Ulster and with the injuries I've suffered this season I didn't think it would happen. I'm really looking forward to running out one last time."

Ulster coach Matt Williams said: "David is an iconic figure in Ulster and Irish rugby and I hope the people of Ulster turn up to say thank you for a remarkable career."

With Ulster now qualified for the Heineken Cup next season, Matt Williams has made five changes to the starting line-up, the backline remains the same apart from Wallace dropping to the bench to accommodate Humphreys.

Bryan Young starts at loose head with Justin Fitzpatrick named on the bench. Carlo Del Fava picked up an injury against Glasgow so Ryan Caldwell starts in the second row alongside Justin Harrison, who will be making his final appearance for Ulster before moving onto Bath.

Stephen Ferris returns from injury to take his place as blindside Flanker with Matt McCullough dropping to be bench and Kieron Dawson starting at Open Side.

Form: Ulster tripped up 24-35 at home to Glasgow Warriors last Saturday and for the first time secured a try bonus point despite losing. Ulster have lost their last two games against Welsh opponents, but have not lost at Ravenhill against a Welsh side in the league since Ospreys were the visitors in November 2005. Cardiff Blues have won their last four games in the Magners League; the Blues have not won five in a row in the league since season 2005/06. The Cardiff based team have won five of their last six games against Irish opposition. The last four clashes between the two teams have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst the Blues have lost on all five previous visits to Ravenhill.

The teams:

Ulster: 15 Mark Bartholomeusz, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Andrew Trimble, 12 Rob Dewey, 11 Simon Danielli, 10 David Humphreys, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Kieron Dawson, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Ryan Caldwell, 4 Justin Harrison, 3 Tom Court, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Bryan Young,

Replacements: 16 N Brady, 17 Justin Fitzpatrick, 18 Matt McCullough, 19 Neil Best, 20 Paul Marshall, 21 Paddy Wallace, 22 Mark McCrea.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Nick Macleod, 14 Roger Davies, 13 Marc Stcherbina, 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 Leigh Halfpenny, 10 Nicky Robinson, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Xavier Rush (c), 7 Ben White, 6 Maama Molitika, 5 Scott Morgan, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Gary Powell, 2 Gareth Williams, 1 Taufa'ao Filise.

Replacements: 16 John Yapp, 17 T Rhys Thomas, 18 James Down, 19 Mark Lewis, 20 Rhys Shellard, 21 Jason Spice, 22 Dai Flanagan.

Date: Friday, May 9

Venue: Ravenhill

Kick-off: 19:30 BST (18:30 GMT)

Referee: Andy Macpherson (SRU)

Touch Judges: E O'Dowd (IRFU), M Gargan (IRFU)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins vs Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Preview
Newcastle Falcons vs GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Preview
Saturday , November 22
Exeter vs WaspsExeter vs Wasps Preview
London Irish vs BathLondon Irish vs Bath Preview
Sunday , November 23
Saracens vs NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Preview
London Welsh vs Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Preview
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 22
Italy vs South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Preview
Scotland vs TongaScotland vs Tonga Preview
Ireland vs AustraliaIreland vs Australia Preview
Wales vs New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Preview
England vs SamoaEngland vs Samoa Preview
France vs ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Preview
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , November 21
Dragons vs MunsterDragons vs Munster Preview
Scarlets vs Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Preview
Connacht vs ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Preview
Ulster vs OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Preview
Sunday , November 23
Treviso vs LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Preview
Edinburgh vs Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Preview
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
Bath 23 - 14 Newcastle FalconsBath vs Newcastle Falcons Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Romania 13 - 18 JapanRomania vs Japan Report
France 29 - 26 AustraliaFrance vs Australia Report
Scotland 16 - 24 New ZealandScotland vs New Zealand Report
England 28 - 31 South AfricaEngland vs South Africa Report
Tonga 40 - 12 USATonga vs USA Report
Wales 17 - 13 FijiWales vs Fiji Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 14
Gloucester 15 - 22 HarlequinsGloucester vs Harlequins Report
Northampton 18 - 24 ExeterNorthampton vs Exeter Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 18 - 20 ArgentinaItaly vs Argentina Report
Canada 13 - 23 SamoaCanada vs Samoa Report
More International Match results
LV= Cup
Cardiff Blues 19 - 13 Scarlets
Ospreys 35 - 51 DragonsOspreys vs Dragons Report
Sunday , November 9
Wasps 43 - 22 London Irish
London Welsh 9 - 18 Gloucester
Leicester 29 - 13 Sale SharksLeicester vs Sale Sharks Report
More LV= Cup results
International Match
Saturday , November 8
Italy 24 - 13 SamoaItaly vs Samoa Report
Wales 28 - 33 AustraliaWales vs Australia Report
England 21 - 24 New ZealandEngland vs New Zealand Report
Georgia 9 - 23 TongaGeorgia vs Tonga Report
Ireland 29 - 15 South AfricaIreland vs South Africa Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton726
2Exeter724
3Bath724
4Saracens724
5Wasps720