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Preview: Cardiff Blues v Edinburgh

04th October 2013 12:50

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Cardiff v London Irish Gethin Jenkins charge

Gethin Jenkins: First start since his return

Cory Allen wins his first-ever start in the PRO12 as Cardiff Blues welcome Edinburgh to the Arms Park on Sunday.

The Cardiff-born Wales U20 centre is called up to the starting line-up after his try-scoring performance off the bench last week and is one of three changes made by Director of Rugby Phil Davies as the Blues hunt a return to winning ways on home soil.

The other two changes come in the pack as loosehead prop Gethin Jenkins makes his first league appearance for the region since returning from France and will he pack down with Matthew Rees and Taufa'ao Filise in the front-row.

Lock Bradley Davies is also recalled to the starting line-up after serving a suspension and will team up with Filo Paulo in the second row.

Flanker Josh Navidi will make his 50th appearance for the region in the back row alongside Sam Warburton and Andries Pretorius.

There is also a potential major milestone for centre Dafydd Hewitt who is named among the replacements. If Hewitt comes off the bench he will make his 100th appearance and become a centurion for Blues.

"Our challenge is to continue to improve and build on what we produced last week against Leinster," said Davies.

"We played with real pride and emotion in Dublin and for long periods of the game more than matched the defending champions.

"It was a display full of fire and fight and showed we have got some steel about us. Now we've got to produce that same level of performance in front of our own supporters.

"There are still things that we need to work on, but what we are pleased about is that we are continuing to create opportunities," he added.

"We've scored some great tries in recent games and in Ireland could have scored a few more if we had been more clinical.

"We have just got to be more efficient in what we do and once we start doing that we know we will get the results we want."

Edinburgh welcome the return of captain Greig Laidlaw this Sunday as they look to repeat last season's away success in Cardiff.

The 27-year-old scrum-half has recovered from the knee injury that has kept him sidelined since the summer to make his first competitive outing of the season.

"It's great to have Greig [Laidlaw] back in the side," said Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons.

"We have two fine young scrum-halves in Sam [Hidlago-Clyne] and Sean [Kennedy] but Greig brings a lot of experience and leadership earned at an international level.

"I believe he will make a big difference to the team."

The backline sees wingers Tim Visser and Dougie Fife return from the head knocks they sustained against Ospreys a fortnight ago, and on-trial Argentine centre, Joaquin Dominguez, make his first start for the club after extending his loan spell earlier this week.

Minor injuries to Greig Tonks (hamstring) and Grant Gilchrist (hip) mean the pair are unavailable for the game, with the opportunity to start offered to Jack Cuthbert (full-back) and returning lock Sean Cox.

The remaining change to the starting side sees Argentine back-row Tomas Leonardi make his debut in place of the rested Roddy Grant while, on the bench, the club include Scotland centre Matt Scott for the first time this season, and new signing Cornell Du Preez, who checked in on Tuesday (2 October).

Solomons added: "Clearly this is going to be a tough game. Cardiff have all their British and Irish Lions back, and these are players who rank alongside the best in the world in their position.

"They're a strong outfit with world class players, so it's good to have some experience back in our team as we go down to Cardiff looking for a good performance."

Form: Cardiff Blues' solo victory in their last six RaboDirect PRO12 contests was 21-10 at home to Connacht in round 2. The Blues have managed to record only one try bonus point at the Arms Park in any tournament since 2009, last September against Treviso. Edinburgh's solo victory so far this season was 16-13 at home to the Dragons in round 2. The Scotsmen have won just one of their last ten away games in all competitions: 9-7 over Zebre in Parma in March. Edinburgh's only win in Wales on their last sixteen visits since December 2009 was 21-19 in this equivalent fixture at the Arms Park last season. Cardiff Blues have won five of their last six encounters with Edinburgh in the PRO12, however the Scotsmen have been victorious on five of their last six visits to the Arms Park.

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Owen Williams, 12 Cory Allen, 11 Harry Robinson, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Andries Pretorius 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Matthew Rees (c), 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Scott Andrews, 18 Sam Hobbs, 19 Lou Reed, 20 Robin Copeland, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 Dafydd Hewitt.

Edinburgh: 15 Jack Cuthbert, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Joaquin Dominguez, 12 Ben Atiga, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Harry Leonard, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 David Denton, 7 Tomas Leonardi, 6 Dimitri Basilaia, 5 Izak van der Westuihzen, 4 Sean Cox, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 James Hilterbrand, 17 Wicus Blaauw, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Cornell Du Preez, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22 Matt Scott, 23 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne .

Date: Sunday, October 6
Venue: Arms Park, Cardiff
Kick-off: 14.05 BST (13.05 GMT)
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU)

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