Planet Rugby

Preview: Cardiff Blues v Ulster

16th February 2012 12:05

Share:

Lloyd Williams passing for Cardiff Blues

Back in blue: Lloyd Williams

Cardiff Blues welcome back Lloyd Williams, Scott Andrews and Gavin Henson from Wales' squad for Friday's clash with Ulster at the Arms Park.

The Blues return to the Arms Park for the second week having won four of their last five matches.

They face an Ulster side whose only loss in their last five games was 15-19 in Clermont in the Heineken Cup on 21 January. The Ulstermen doubled their tally of away wins in this season's PRO12 on their last trip, winning at Edinburgh.

Ulster need to win to avoid a clean sweep of defeats in Wales this season and have won their last three clashes with the Blues including a 37-15 victory in Cardiff last season.

There are three changes in the backs as the Blues welcome back Williams and Henson from the Six Nations squad and also Dan Parks who announced his international retirement earlier in the month. Henson starts at inside centre with Laulala still suffering from a hamstring strain picked up in the win over Connacht.

There are two changes in the backrow with Josh Navidi and Michael Paterson starting. Cory Hill makes his second RaboDirect start partnering Paul Tito in the second row. While Ryan Tyrell starts at hooker either side of John Yapp and Scott Andrews in the front row.

"I think Ulster's threat comes from across the board," said coach Justin Burnell.

"They have recruited some exceptional South African and New Zealand forwards and have a very good half-back pairing.

"Pienaar is a key man for them and if there was a world ranking I certainly think he would be in the top three whether he was playing 9 or 10.

"It is a massive challenge for us but important that we pick up points to get us to the play off stages.

"The players and coaches certainly enjoyed being back at the Arms Park last weekend and we are fortunate that we have two great venues to play at. It was a great occasion.

"Certain players hadn't played there and were proud that they were given the opportunity. I hope we can secure the same result on Friday."

Meanwhile, Brian McLaughlin has made four personnel and three positional changes for Ulster's important RaboDirect PRO12 visit to Wales.

Paddy Wallace, Tom Court and Chris Henry have been released from Ireland duty and they go straight into the starting XV along with Nigel Brady, who swaps with Andi Kyriacou. Brady, Court and John Afoa form the front-row, while Lewis Stevenson and Dan Tuohy continue their partnership at lock with captain Johann Muller still sidelined through injury.

Willie Faloon and Robbie Diack get another chance in the back row, where they are joined by stand-in skipper Chris Henry. Mike McComish makes way despite a robust performance in the win over Dragons last weekend.

The return of Wallace at inside centre results in a number of positional changes across the backline. Nevin Spence moves out one to wear the number thirteen jersey, with Ian Whitten moving to the wing and Stefan Terblanche starting at full-back.

Form: Cardiff Blues have won four of their last five matches in all competitions, and in home encounters their solo defeat in their last eight fixtures was 19-23 to Leinster in the RaboDirect PRO12 on 7 January. Ulster's only loss in their last five games was 15-19 in Clermont Auvergne in the European Cup on 21 January. The Ulstermen doubled their tally of away wins in this season's RaboDirect PRO12 on their last trip, winning 42-20 at Edinburgh. Ulster need to win to avoid a clean sweep of defeats in Wales this season. Ulster have won their last three clashes with the Blues including a 37-15 victory on their only previous visit to the Cardiff City Stadium.

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Ben Blair, 14 Richard Mustoe, 13 Gavin Evans, 12 Gavin Henson, 11 Tom James, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Xavier Rush, 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Michael Paterson, 5 Paul Tito (capt), 4 Cory Hill, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Ryan Tyrell, 1 John Yapp.
Replacements: 16 T Rhys Thomas, 17 Nathan Trevett, 18 Ryan Harford, 19 Maama Molitika, 20 Macauley Cook, 21 Richie Rees, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Chris Czekaj.

Ulster: 15 Stefan Terblanche, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Nevin Spence, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Ian Whitten, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Robbie Diack, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 Chris Henry (capt), 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Lewis Stevenson, 3 John Afoa, 2 Nigel Brady, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Andi Kyriacou, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 Adam Macklin, 19 Tim Barker, 20 Mike McComish, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Simon Danielli, 23 Adam D'Arcy.

Date: Friday, February 17
Kick-off: 19:05
Venue: Arms Park
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
International Match
Saturday , November 1
Barbarians vs Australia14:30
USA vs New Zealand15:00
More International Match fixtures
LV= Cup
Saturday , November 1
Sale Sharks vs Wasps14:00
Exeter vs Gloucester15:00
Bath vs London Welsh15:00
London Irish vs Leicester15:00
Northampton vs Newcastle16:00
Sunday , November 2
Saracens vs Harlequins13:00
More LV= Cup fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 31
Leinster vs EdinburghLeinster vs Edinburgh Preview
Glasgow vs Benetton TrevisoGlasgow vs Benetton Treviso Preview
Ospreys vs ConnachtOspreys vs Connacht Preview
Saturday , November 1
Cardiff Blues vs Munster17:15
Scarlets vs Zebre18:00
Ulster vs Newport Gwent D'gons19:35
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 1
Lyon vs Toulouse13:45
Racing Metro Paris vs Oyonnax18:30
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
La Rochelle vs Montpellier18:30
Brive vs Castres18:30
Bayonne vs Clermont Auvergne20:45
Sunday , November 2
Toulon vs Grenoble13:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 26
Castres 16 - 21 LeinsterCastres vs Leinster Report
Clermont Auvergne 35 - 3 Sale SharksClermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks Report
Benetton Treviso 10 - 26 Racing Metro 92
Wasps 16 - 23 HarlequinsWasps vs Harlequins Report
Saturday , October 25
Ulster 13 - 23 ToulonUlster vs Toulon Report
Bath 19 - 21 ToulouseBath vs Toulouse Report
Montpellier 13 - 15 GlasgowMontpellier vs Glasgow Report
Northampton 34 - 6 OspreysNorthampton vs Ospreys Report
Scarlets 15 - 3 LeicesterScarlets vs Leicester Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Rovigo 18 - 33 Cardiff Blues
Exeter 33 - 13 Connacht
Bucuresti 9 - 13 Stade Francais
Oyonnax 15 - 25 Gloucester
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Western Province 19 - 16 LionsWestern Province vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Taranaki 36 - 32 TasmanTaranaki vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster 14 - 3 SaracensMunster vs Saracens Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Grenoble 15 - 25 London Irish
Edinburgh 25 - 17 LOU Rugby
Newport Gwent D'gons 26 - 30 Newcastle
Brive 21 - 26 Zebre
La Rochelle 25 - 13 Bayonne
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh 20 - 52 Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615