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Pro Rugby in Wales kicks off 2016 with a thrilling double derby day with all four teams are in action on Jan 1st to welcome in a positive start to the New Year.

More action will excite crowds in Round 11 of the Guinness PRO12 as the next instalments in the Welsh festive derbies see the Ospreys host Newport Gwent Dragons (KO 2pm) followed by Cardiff Blues hosting Scarlets at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park (KO 5pm).

Following two wins for the away teams with the Ospreys and Cardiff Blues victorious over Christmas, top of the PRO12 table Scarlets will be looking for a big performance at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park where they haven’t won for the past three years.

The Ospreys have a strong home record in Welsh derbies in the PRO12 and will be looking to build points in the league in front of a busy home crowd at the Liberty Stadium.

Ospreys Head Coach, Steve Tandy, said: “It was an important win on Boxing Day but it won’t count for much if we don’t follow it up with a good performance against the Dragons. It’s important we recognise that not many teams go to Parc y Scarlets in the PRO12 and win, it was only their second home defeat in two years, so we could be happy with the outcome and the character of the squad, if not some elements of the performance.

“It’s a huge month for us in the PRO12 and in Europe, with four home games that we want to use to shape the rest of the season. We’ve got to back up the Scarlets win over the next couple of weeks. With Leinster home as well next weekend it’s a great opportunity for us to make some progress up the table.

“We’re expecting a difficult afternoon against the Dragons, as is always the case. They have been in good form, won three from four in December, are doing will in Europe and were really unlucky not to win on Sunday. They’ll come here full of confidence, so we’ll have to be at our best. There’s no margin for error now and that adds spice to every game that we play.

“There were two big crowds for the two derbies last weekend and they were treated to two cracking contests that went to the wire, full of intensity, and hopefully we’ll see the same on New Year’s Day.”

The Ospreys team to play Newport Gwent Dragons at the Liberty Stadium on Friday 1st January 2016, KO 2pm is: 15 Dan Evans; 14 Jeff Hassler; 13 Ben John; 12 Josh Matavesi; 11 Hanno Dirksen; 10 Sam Davies; 9 Tom Habberfield; 1 Nicky Smith; 2 Scott Baldwin; 3 Aaron Jarvis; 4 Lloyd Ashley; 5 Alun Wyn Jones (Capt); 6 Dan Lydiate; 7 Justin Tipuric; 8 Dan Baker

Replacements: 16 Sam Parry; 17 Ryan Bevington; 18 Dmitri Arhip; 19 Rory Thornton; 20 James King; 21 Martin Roberts; 22 Dan Biggar; 23 Jonathan Spratt

Dmitri Arhip will make his 50th Ospreys appearance if he comes off the bench.

NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS

The Dragons faced Cardiff Blues at Rodney Parade on the 27th December and were unlucky to not take the spoils after a cracking display of rugby to a sell out crowd. Director of rugby Lyn Jones has made five changes to the team that took on their neighbours which sees the inclusion of Sarel Pretorius and Boris Stankovich who sat out the last match because of injury.

The back three remains untouched as fullback Carl Meyer joins wings Nick Scott and try-scorer Ashton Hewitt. Fly-half Dorian Jones remains unchanged and Sarel Pretorius returns to full fitness to take the place of scrum-half.

The front row sees the return of prop Boris Stankovich, who missed out on last week’s derby clash, as he joins fellow prop Lloyd Fairbrother and skipper Thomas Rhys Thomas.

The second row remains untouched with Matthew Screech and Rynard Landman named. Last week’s Guinness PRO12 Man of the Match Nick Crosswell retains his place alongside young flanker Ollie Griffiths and number 8 Ed Jackson.

The replacements bench has four changes made to is as Phil Price, Brok Harris, Nic Cudd and Charlie Davies join Elliot Dee, Cory Hill. Jason Tovey and Ross Wardle.

Newport Gwent Dragons team to face Ospreys: Carl Meyer, Nick Scott, Adam Hughes, Adam Warren, Ashton Hewitt, Dorian Jones, Sarel Pretorius; Boris Stankovich, Thomas Rhys Thomas ©, Lloyd Fairbrother, Matthew Screech, Rynard Landman, Nick Crosswell, Ollie Griffiths, Ed Jackson

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Phil Price, Brok Harris, Cory Hill, Nic Cudd, Charlie Davies, Jason Tovey, Ross Wardle.

CARDIFF BLUES

Wales international centre Cory Allen will make his first start of the Guinness PRO12 season. Allen, a second half replacement in the tense victory over Newport Gwent Dragons, starts his first league game of the campaign after recovering from injury.

Head Coach Danny Wilson makes just three changes to his starting line-up with Dan Fish coming in at full back, as Rhys Patchell moves to fly half in a positional change. The final change to the side is a recall for New Zealander Jarrad Hoeata who comes into the second row to play alongside lock James Down.

Sam Warburton, Gareth Anscombe and Ellis Jenkins all miss the game through injury.

“I’ve been pleased with the way we have played in the last few weeks and we are aiming to start 2016 with a positive performance and result,” said Wilson. “We have been consistent and there is a belief in the squad that we can win these games.

“When you win tight games late on – Connacht and Montpellier at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park and Dragons away – it gives you that confidence that even when you are down you can win games.

“The boys are working hard and doing everything I’m asking of them. We are making the right strides and looking to continue that into the New Year.”

Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Tom James, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lloyd Williams; 1 Gethin Jenkins (c), 2 Kristian Dacey, 3 Taufa’ao Filise, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 James Down, 6 Josh Turnbull, 7 Josh Navidi, 8 Manoa Vosawai

Replacements: 16 Ethan Lewis, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Lou Reed, 20 Macauley Cook, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Garyn Smith

SCARLETS

Scarlets Head Coach Wayne Pivac has made three changes to the side that narrowly lost to Ospreys at the Parc on Boxing Day with injuries forcing a reshuffle in the pack.

Jake Ball and John Barclay have both been ruled out, with a knee and forearm injury respectively, which sees Tom Price and Jack Condy coming into the starting XV for the New Year clash.

Scrum half Gareth Davies, who pulled up in last Saturday’s warm up with a calf injury, returns to the starting line up with Aled Davies named on the bench.

With injuries to James Davies, John Barclay, Rory Pitman and Will Boyde hooker Emyr Phillips is named as backrow cover on the replacements bench.

Speaking ahead of the second festive derby Pivac said: “This game becomes the most important game, I know it’s a cliché and we say it every week, but when you’re managing a squad like we are with injuries it puts pressure on the group.

“We know we’re in for a battle up front against the Blues. The good thing about playing them at home is we know what the conditions will be like and it’s going to be firm underfoot.”

Despite missing out on the victory, and West Wales bragging rights, on Boxing Day Scarlets remain at the top of the Guinness PRO12 table, only a point ahead of Connacht in second place.

Pivac went on to say: “After our performance on the weekend, and not getting over the line, other results went our way and we remain where we are. Having said that there are eight teams who could all finish in the top four.

“It’s a huge month. Blues and Connacht are our focus at the moment before we head back into European competition.

“The PRO12 has been such an enthralling competition this year I think.”

Scarlets side to take on Cardiff Blues on Friday 1st January 2016, kick-off 5.00pm, at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park; 15 Michael Collins, 14 Steff Evans, 13 Gareth Owen, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Gareth Davies, 1 Rob Evans, 2 Ken Owens ©, 3 Samson Lee, 4 Tom Price, 5 Lewis Rawlins, 6 Aaron Shingler, 7 Jack Condy, 8 Morgan Allen

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Phil John, Rhodri Jones, Maselino Paulino, Emyr Phillips, Aled Davies, Steve Shingler, Regan King