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GUINNESS PRO12 Preview: Cardiff Blues v Leinster

GUINNESS PRO12 Preview: Cardiff Blues v Leinster

Completing a season’s double over Cardiff Blues would keep the momentum going for Leinster ahead of their upcoming European Champions Cup clashes with Castres Olympique and Wasps.

GUINNESS PRO12: Saturday, January 10

CARDIFF BLUES (9th) v LEINSTER (4th), BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park, 2.40pm (live Sky Sports 1 HD/highlights TG4)

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Team News: There are 11 changes to the Leinster team as head coach Matt O’Connor welcomes back some high profile names from injury and also those that have been rested during the last few games.

Squad vice-captain Rob Kearney (pictured below) is back in harness at full-back and leads the side with brother Dave on the left wing and Fergus McFadden selected on the right. The two wingers are the only backs retained from last week’s starting line-up against Ulster.

In the centre Noel Reid will have Ben Te’o outside him for his third appearance of the season since joining from the South Sydney Rabbitohs. it is Te’o’s first start since fracturing his forearm in the round 7 defeat of Edinburgh in October.

Reid is back for the first time since his man-of-the-match performance against Connacht last month. He had been selected on the bench for the Munster game but illness ruled him out of that and also the Ulster game. Luke McGrath starts at scrum half with Jimmy Gopperth donning the number 10 jersey.

In the pack, it is a completely new front five with a front row full of Ireland internationals as Michael Bent, Sean Cronin and Martin Moore all start. It is Moore’s first involvement since the away trip in October against Zebre. A shoulder injury early in that game has kept him sidelined until now. The second row features Tom Denton and Kane Douglas.

Finally, in the back row, Dominic Ryan (pictured above) has passed his return-to-play protocols having been replaced early in the St. Stephen’s Day clash with Munster. He starts at blindside flanker with Jordi Murphy at openside and Jack Conan, the Bank of Ireland Leinster Player of the Month for December, lining out at number 8.

Meanwhile, Welsh international prop Gethin Jenkins will make his 150th appearance for Cardiff Blues when they entertain the reigning PRO12 champions.

Jenkins, who fittingly also made his debut for the region against Leinster back in September 2004, will captain the side as he reaches another big milestone in his career.

Blues director of rugby Mark Hammett makes three changes to the side that defeated the Newport Gwent Dragons 11-9 on New Year’s Day.

Tighthead prop Adam Jones is called into the front row, packing down with Kristian Dacey and skipper Jenkins. Lock Lou Reed is also called up to join forces with New Zealand international Jarrad Hoeata in the second row, with Samoa’s Filo Paulo ruled out through injury following the team run on Friday.

The final change sees a return for winger Alex Cuthbert, while fit-again scrum half Lloyd Williams is named among the replacements.

CARDIFF BLUES: Joaquin Tuculet; Alex Cuthbert, Cory Allen, Gavin Evans, Lucas Amorosino; Gareth Anscombe, Tavis Knoyle; Gethin Jenkins (capt), Kristian Dacey, Adam Jones, Lou Reed, Jarrad Hoeata, Josh Turnbull, Sam Warburton, Josh Navidi.

Replacements: Matthew Rees, Sam Hobbs, Taufa’ao Filise, Miles Normandale, Manoa Vosawai, Lloyd Williams, Gareth Davies, Adam Thomas.

LEINSTER: Rob Kearney (capt); Fergus McFadden, Ben Te’o, Noel Reid, Dave Kearney; Jimmy Gopperth, Luke McGrath; Michael Bent, Sean Cronin, Martin Moore, Tom Denton, Kane Douglas, Dominic Ryan, Jordi Murphy, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Jamie Hagan, Tadhg Furlong, Mike McCarthy, Josh van der Flier, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Darragh Fanning.

Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Nigel Owens, Rhys Thomas (both Wales)
Television Match Official: Tim Hayes (Wales)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Cardiff Blues to win: 6/4; Draw: 20/1; Leinster to win: 1/2

Pre-Match Quotes: Fergus McFadden (Leinster) – “Obviously (our aim) is to try and get another win to get those points that we really need in the league, and then get some momentum before Europe.

“There’s going to be guys fighting for places because a lot of guys are coming back from injury, including me, who are looking to get on the teamsheets for those European games, so if anyone gets the chance this weekend it’s about doing the best, trying to get the win, but trying to stake your claim as well.

“Another positive I thought out of the (Ulster) game last week was a couple of the young lads putting their hand up. Josh van der Flier didn’t run any of the moves really last week with the first team, but he slotted in and was one of our outstanding forwards. It’s great when Academy lads like that get their chance and they take it.

“I was just delighted to get the four points (against Ulster), first and foremost. On a personal level, it was nice to get 80 minutes under my belt. Fingers crossed I will get a chance to get a bit more game-time this week just to knock a few more cobwebs out.

“But, yeah, delighted with the four points against Ulster and I think we really needed it. For us, a few other fixtures went our way as well in that top four with Glasgow and the Ospreys losing. We need to try to keep the momentum up now.”

Mark Hammett (Cardiff Blues) – “Leinster have set the benchmark for many clubs in European rugby and will arrive at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park full of confidence and with a talented squad.

“They are powerful in the set piece and look to keep the ball in hand and alive when they attack. When they are defending they use the choke tackle to really put pressure on.

“Our contact work will have to go up another notch and we need to work hard in both attack and defence if we are to secure an important result.

“Our home games with the Scarlets and Dragons saw over 20,000 fans come through the turnstiles and generate a superb atmosphere. It would be fantastic to replicate those noise levels again against Leinster and make it another truly memorable occasion.”

Top Scorers – 2014/15 GUINNESS PRO12: Cardiff Blues – Points: Rhys Patchell 78; Tries: Lloyd Williams, Kristian Dacey 3 each; Leinster – Points: Ian Madigan 113; Tries: Ian Madigan 4


Saturday, January 7, 2012 – Leinster 19 Cardiff Blues 23, Cardiff City Stadium
Saturday, October 27, 2012 – Leinster 59 Cardiff Blues 22, the RDS
Friday, February 8, 2013 – Cardiff Blues 11 Leinster 26, Cardiff Arms Park
Friday, September 27, 2013 – Leinster 34 Cardiff Blues 20, the RDS
Thursday, February 20, 2014 – Cardiff Blues 22 Leinster 34, Cardiff Arms Park
Friday, September 26, 2014 – Leinster 37 Cardiff Blues 23, the RDS


– Cardiff Blues have won three of their last four fixtures in the GUINNESS PRO12, the reversal being at home to the Newport Gwent Dragons over the festive period

– The Blues are winless in their four encounters with Irish provinces this season, with Ulster and Munster already being victorious at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park

– Leinster’s only defeat in their last seven PRO12 fixtures came against Munster in Limerick on St. Stephen’s Day, while their only away victory in the league this season came in round 6 on a visit to Zebre

– The Leinstermen have won all three games they have played against Welsh regions this season

– The Blues’ only success in their last 16 encounters with Leinster in all competitions since 2007 was 11-3 at the Cardiff City Stadium in the PRO12 in February 2011