Planet Rugby

Preview: Leinster v Cardiff Blues

26th October 2012 09:38

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Alex Cuthbert Cardiff Blues v Toulon Heineken Cup Pool Six Cardiff Arms Park

Key player: Alex Cuthbert

Cardiff Blues have recalled Jason Tovey at fly-half for their return to RaboDirect PRO12 action against Heineken Cup champions Leinster.

The Blues have won both of their away games in the competition so far this season, at Connacht and the Dragons, but have slipped to back-to-back losses in the PRO12 to Ulster and Glasgow.

There are two changes in the backs from the team that started against Toulon last Sunday. Dafydd Hewitt starts at centre in place of Gavin Evans who took a knock against the French side and Tovey starts in place of Ceri Sweeney.

There are also two changes in the pack. Scott Andrews starts in the front-row in place of Benoit Bourrust who left the field on Sunday with a calf injury while James Down replaces Lou Reed in the second-row, who also moves to the bench.

"To win a Heineken Cup, like they have in the last four years, their strength speaks for itself," said director of rugby, Phil Davies.

"They've got a pretty multi faceted team.

"Their kicking game is well established, their set-piece and their ability to be direct is well established, as is their wide game. So they've got a pretty much all round game.

"That is what you need, to be as successful as they've been in Europe over the last three or four years. So, we've got a big job on our hand and for me the break down is going to be the main area of battle. We've got to be red hot both in attack and defence."

Meanwhile, Leinster have named an all-Irish starting XV to face the Blues.

Jonathan Sexton makes his 98th appearance and is just five points away from passing the 500 point career mark in league games. He partners Eoin Reddan at half-back.

Gordon D'Arcy links up with Brian O'Driscoll in the midfield, while David Kearney will make his 40th appearance and start his first game of the season after being named on the wing.

Up front, Devin Toner locks down alongside captain Leo Cullen. Hooker Richardt Strauss, who was named in the Ireland panel for the first time earlier this week for the forthcoming November series, is named in the front-row alongside props Cian Healy and Mike Ross.

Back-row Rhys Ruddock, meanwhile, takes his place in the senior panel for the first time this season and is named amongst a replacements bench which includes Isaac Boss.

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Form: Leinster's only defeat in any competition since the opening weekend of the new season came at Connacht in round four of the RaboDirect PRO12. Leinster's only defeat at the RDS in their last ten regular season PRO12 fixtures was to Ospreys on 23 March. Cardiff Blues have slipped to back to back defeats in the PRO12 to Ulster and Glasgow, but have won both of the away games they have played in the competition so far this season, at Connacht and the Dragons. The Blues' only victory in their last eleven encounters with the Leinstermen in all competitions since 2007 was 11-3 at the Cardiff City Stadium on 19 February 2011. The Welshmen's solitary victory against Leinster in Dublin came at Donnybrook on 5 March 2004.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Ian Madigan, 14 David Kearney, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Fergus McFadden, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Leo Cullen (capt), 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Damian Browne, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Brendan Macken, 23 Fionn Carr.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Dafydd Hewitt, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tom James, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Andries Pretorius (c), 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 James Down, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Marc Breeze, 1 Tafa'ao Filise.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Willimas, 17 Nathan Trevett, 18 Campese Ma'afu, 19 Lou Reed, 20 Robin Copeland, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Tom Williams.

Date: Saturday, October 27
Kick-off: 18:30 BST
Venue: Royal Dublin Society
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant referees: David Wilkinson (Ireland), Olly Hodges (Ireland)
Television match official: Brian Macneice (Ireland)
Assessor: Tim Aplin (Ireland)

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