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Guinness PRO12 rugby kicks off in the Welsh capital on Friday evening – with a BIG weekend for the four professional sides who all play in Wales this weekend and a host of international stars back in action with everything to play for!

Ahead of the big Welsh derby Ospreys v Scarlets at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday afternoon (KO 3pm), the Cardiff Blues open the weekend’s rugby entertainment with a home fixture at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park against Treviso on Friday evening (kick off 7.05pm).

Welsh international stars Sam Warburton, Gethin Jenkins, Gareth Anscombe and Tom James all return to the starting line-up. Head Coach Danny Wilson makes a total of seven changes to the side that defeated Munster as he recalls his internationals after Six Nations duty.

Fly half Anscombe returns to the team to partner international team-mate Lloyd Williams at half back.

Wing James – the top try scorer for Cardiff Blues this season with eight in all competitions – is back while a reshuffled back line sees Rhys Patchell move to full back and Dan Fish onto the other flank.

A new-look front row will see captain Gethin Jenkins and Kristian Dacey pack down alongside Dillon Lewis, fresh from his Grand Slam winning duties with Wales Under-20s. Lock James Down is fit to join forces with Josh Turnbull in the second row – who make his 50th appearance for Cardiff Blues – while Warburton is named at openside flanker and Ellis Jenkins moves across the scrum to blindside.

Head Coach Wilson said: “One of the goals we set ourselves this season was to build a home record we could be proud of and make sure sides found it difficult to come to BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park.

“So far this season we’ve achieved that and played some great rugby on our surface. We’ve created a game that suits the pitch we play on and the players we have in our squad. The game with Treviso is a crucial as we start a series of fixtures – and soon Welsh derbies – that we have to take advantage of.

Boss Wilson admits the defeat out in Italy was a ‘tough one to swallow’ as Cardiff Blues missed several chances to claim victory. However, back on home soil he has left his side fully aware of what he expects from the latest fixture as they defend a proud home record.

“When we went to Italy last month our first half performance wasn’t as good as it should have been, but we finished the game strongly and had plenty of opportunities to put them away,” he said.

“Coming to our home we must show them respect too, they pushed the Scarlets close a few games ago so we won’t underestimate them. They have a powerful pack of forwards and running outside backs that can cause problems off counter attack ball. We know what is coming, but it is a home game and we must win.”

Cardiff Blues: 15 Rhys Patchell, 14 Dan Fish, 13 Garyn Smith, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Tom James, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Lloyd Williams; 1 Gethin Jenkins (c), 2 Kristian Dacey, 3 Dillon Lewis, 4 Josh Turnbull, 5 James Down, 6 Ellis Jenkins, 7 Sam Warburton, 8 Josh Navidi

Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Jarrad Hoeata, 20 Manoa Vosawai, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Aled Summerhill


On Easter Sunday, Newport Gwent Dragons face 7th placed Edinburgh at Rodney Parade (kick off 2.30pm) with Dragons Director of Rugby, Lyn Jones making a total of five changes and one positional change to his team that faced Munster a few weeks ago.

The back three remain unchanged as fullback Carl Meyer gets the nod alongside wings Ashton Hewitt and Hallam Amos. The centre partnership has one change made to it as Welsh International Tyler Morgan returns from injury to play his second Guinness PRO12 match of the season.

The 20-year-old is partnered with Adam Warren as Adam Hughes moves to the bench. Fly-half Dorian Jones also makes his return from injury after recovering fully from pectoral surgery. Jones is joined in the half-backs by South African scrum-half Sarel Pretorius.

The front row remains unchanged as props Phil Price and Brok Harris are named alongside hooker and Dragons skipper Thomas Rhys Thomas. The second row sees the inclusion of Rynard Landman and young lock Cory Hill. The back row sees versatile forward Lewis Evans move from number 8 to flanker along with Nic Cudd, as Taulupe Faletau returns to pull on the number 8 jersey.

On making his return to the field, centre Tyler Morgan commented: “It’s such a good feeling being back in the environment and getting ready for a game again. I don’t mind how long I play, I just want to get on the field and get the ball back in my hands.”

He continued: “It’s been massively frustrating, I was just coming back from the shoulder injury and was a week into the Six Nations thinking I would be playing the next weekend. Eventually I got to train with the boys again and they wanted me to be fit and fresh for the Dragons. I am all clear and ready to play.

“The lungs will be burning but it will be good to get out there against Edinburgh. I’ve only had 20 minutes against Connacht (this season) so I have a point to prove.”

Newport Gwent Dragons team to face Edinburgh; Carl Meyer, Ashton Hewitt, Tyler Morgan, Adam Warren, Hallam Amos, Dorian Jones, Sarel Pretorius; Phil Price, Thomas Rhys Thomas ©, Brok Harris, Cory Hill, Rynard Landman, Lewis Evans, Nic Cudd, Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Hugh Gustafson, Boris Stankovich, Lloyd Fairbrother, Matthew Screech, Ed Jackson, Charlie Davies, Angus O’Brien, Adam Hughes