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Preview: Cardiff vs Glasgow

05th December 2013 11:55

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Glasgow v Exeter Al Kellock

50th Euro appearance: Al Kellock

Al Kellock will make his 50th Heineken Cup appearance for Glasgow Warriors against Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park on Friday.

The Warriors' skipper will have featured 30 times in the Heineken Cup for Glasgow and he made 20 appearances in the competition for Edinburgh.

Following last week's 28-16 win over Ospreys, Stuart Hogg continues at full-back and DTH van der Merwe keeps his place on the left wing, with Sean Maitland coming in on the right side to replace Tommy Seymour.

Alex Dunbar makes a welcome return at inside centre, following a seven-week spell on the sidelines with a neck/shoulder injury and he'll partner Argentina international Gabriel Ascarate in a new centre pairing.

Duncan Weir replaces Ruaridh Jackson at fly-half and Niko Matawalu comes in for Chris Cusiter at scrum-half. Both Jackson and Cusiter are named amongst the replacements.

In the front row Ryan Grant continues at loosehead, while Dougie Hall is at hooker and Moray Low comes in at tighthead.

Tom Ryder partners Kellock in the second row, while Josh Strauss and Rob Harley continue at number 8 and blindside flanker, with Chris Fusaro replacing Tyrone Holmes at open-side.

After coming off the bench to score a try last weekend Ryan Wilson is once again named amongst the replacements, along with Leone Nakarawa, who could make his first appearance in the competition.

A minute's silence will be observed prior to kick-off tomorrow as a mark of respect for those who died in last week's helicopter crash in Glasgow, while the Warriors will also wear black armbands during the game.

"We're really looking forward to this double header with Cardiff Blues and we know the outcome of these game will be pivotal to our hopes of progressing in the tournament," said Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend.

"The Blues had a fantastic result against Toulon in the last round and we know we'll need to start the game well and put pressure on Cardiff throughout the contest.

"There have been a few difficult selection decisions to make this week, with more players back available for this game and also after the team showed great character to record an away win against Ospreys last weekend.

"I'd like to congratulate Al Kellock on his 50th Heineken Cup appearance tomorrow night. This is a fantastic achievement for someone who gives his all for Glasgow and we're expecting him to lead by example once again."

Meanwhile, second-row giant Chris Dicomidis, a recent recruit from Pontypridd, is one of eight changes made by Cardiff Blues Director of Rugby Phil Davies from the side that drew with Benetton Treviso last weekend in Italy.

Returning Wales stars Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert and Lloyd Williams are recalled to the backline while fit-again duo Rhys Patchell and Harry Robinson are also named in the starting line-up.

Prop Sam Hobbs will captain the side and is joined in the front row by hooker Kristian Dacey.

Rory Watts-Jones will make his first start of the season and appearance in Europe for Blues at openside flanker.

"Chris Dicomidis will start for us which is very exciting for him. From Sardis Road to the Arms Park and the Heineken Cup," said Davies.

"He is an experienced Premiership player and what a challenge and opportunity for him to show he is a top player.

"We are missing some players through injury, but we also welcome back players like Alex Cuthbert, Leigh Halfpenny, Rhys Patchell and Lloyd Williams.

"The last few weeks have been a positive for us. There have been some good periods when we have been consistent and it's an exciting challenge for us with some players coming back.

"The boys who have played the last few weeks are battle hardened and people like Alex (Cuthbert) and Leigh (Halfpenny) come in on the back of a huge Test game. We feel we are ready, we have a good cohesion and we want to win the game.

"Glasgow are a team full of quality and it is a big challenge for us. But hopefully we can have the same kind of atmosphere as we had for Toulon at home and reproduce that level of performance."

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Richard Smith, 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 Harry Robinson, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Rory Watts-Jones, 6 Macauley Cook, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Chris Dicomidis, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Sam Hobbs (c).

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Gabriel Ascarate, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Niko Matawalu, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Al Kellock (c), 4 Tom Ryder, 3 Moray Low, 2 Dougie Hall, 1 Ryan Grant
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Jon Welsh, 18 Ed Kalman, 19 Leone Nakarawa, 20 Tyrone Holmes, 21 Ryan Wilson, 22 Chris Cusiter, 23 Ruaridh Jackson

Date: Friday, December 6
Venue: Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff
Kick-off: 20:00 (local and GMT)
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Leo Colgan (Ireland), Eanna O'Dowd (Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)

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