Planet Rugby

Preview: Cardiff Blues v Dragons

24th December 2012 12:10

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Andries Pretorius Cardiff Blues

Number eight: Andries Pretorius

Cardiff Blues have made five changes in the forwards for their Boxing Day PRO12 match against the Dragons.

There are two changes in the front-row with Rhys Williams coming in for Marc Breeze who suffered a finger injury against Scarlets. The other change sees Sam Hobbs replace Taufa'ao Filise.

Lou Reed replaces James Down in the second-row and Robin Copeland replaces Josh Navidi.

Cardiff Blues' only victory in their last seven RaboDirect PRO12 matches was 14-7 against Zebre in Parma on 25 November and they take on a Dragons side who have won three of their last four encounters in all tournaments.

However, the Dragons' solitary win against Blues in Cardiff remains 25-13 on 7 November 2003.

"We can expect a tough game against our visitors the Dragons and a lot of people are saying it has added significance for Heineken Cup qualification, but we as a team have to treat it as just another game, as it's a long old season," said director of rugby Phil Davies.

"Obviously it's a very important game, as it's a derby match and there are local bragging rights at stake, however, it's just one more game. We had a tight result against the Dragons earlier on in the year so it's important that we don't underestimate them.

"There are some top players at the Dragons. Whatever team Darren Edwards and Rob Appleyard prepare will be extremely competitive. They are very good rugby men, very knowledgeable, and that will help their cause I'm sure. However, we have to concentrate on what we are doing."

Meanwhile, Toby Faletau adds his international experience to the men of Gwent as he returns to start alongside Will Harries, Andy Tuilagi, Phil Price and Nic Cudd.

A new-look back-row sees skipper Lewis Evans move to blindside whilst Nic Cudd starts at openside; Faletau then finishes off the trio at number eight, after returning to the squad.

Hooker Sam Parry gets the nod for the fixture, after an impressive first 40 minutes against Mogliano at Rodney Parade. Parry was taken off at half time, after suffering a dead leg but has now recovered to start in the Christmas Derby in Cardiff.

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Jason Tovey, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Gavin Evans, 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 Harry Robinson, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Andries Pretorius (c), 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Robin Copeland, 5 Lou Reed, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Rhys Williams, 1 Sam Hobbs.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Taufa'ao Filise, 18 Benoit Bourrust, 19 James Down, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Alex Walker, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Richard Smith.

Dragons: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Will Harries, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Andy Tuilagi, 11 Mike Poole, 10 Dan Evans, 9 Wayne Evans, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Lewis Evans (capt), 5 Rob Sidoli, 4 Andrew Coombs, 3 Dan Way, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Gustafson, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Nathan Buck, 19 Adam Jones, 20 Tom Brown, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Lewis Robling, 23 Jack Dixon.

Date: Wednesday, December 26
Kick-off: 14:05
Venue: Arms Park
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Ian Davies (Wales), Wayne Davies (Wales)
Television match official: Tony Rowlands (Wales)
Citing Commissioner: John Charles (Wales)

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