Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A string of sizzling derbies is set to warm up the cold Christmas season in Wales as the four regions prepare to go toe-to-toe against their neighbours in red hot contests that will celebrate our game.

The Welsh regional derby action begins tonight when Cardiff Blues welcome Scarlets to BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park to play the first of six passionate clashes to be contested in the Guinness PRO12 over the festive period.

There are two other tasty Guinness PRO12 games elsewhere in Wales for supporters to enjoy this weekend as well.

The Ospreys host Ulster in Swansea at Liberty Stadium tomorrow (17.15) in a tough looking fixture, chasing another win to return to the top of the league table and cement their position in the play-off spots.

Newport Gwent Dragons face Zebre at Rodney Parade on Sunday (16.00) as they look to build on their impressive recent European form and grab a big home win to move ahead of the Italian visitors in the league table.

Cardiff Blues v Llanelli Scarlets, BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park, tonight (19.35).

Lock Lou Reed returns to the starting line-up to face his former region as Cardiff Blues tackle Scarlets in a huge Welsh derby in the Guinness PRO12 at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park tonight.

Reed is one of five changes made by Blues Director of Rugby Mark Hammett as they target a third league win of the season and look to bring some fine rugby to the table for their supporters to feast on.

Argentina international duo Lucas Amorosino and Joaquin Tuculet, who scored a spectacular try on his debut for the region against Benetton Treviso last month, both earn recalls after missing European action.

Scrum half Lewis Jones will partner Gareth Anscombe at half back, with Lloyd Williams missing the game through injury.

In the pack hooker Kristian Dacey is also named in the front row alongside captain Gethin Jenkins and Adam Jones.

Former Scarlets scrum half Tavis Knoyle and recently signed centre Tom Isaacs both earn recalls to the replacements bench along with prop Taufa’ao Filise, who is set to claim legendary status at the region.

If the Tongan ace comes off the bench he will celebrate making a record-breaking 183rd appearance for Blues, putting him clear in the all-time appearance charts for the region.

But the Blues won’t be the only ones out to get into the partying mood, with Scarlets looking to maintain their push for a league play-off spot and offer an early Christmas present to their supporters in the shape of a prized away win.

Wayne Pivac’s men have not lost a game in the Guinness PRO12 at Parc y Scarlets this season but are yet to secure a victory on the road, and they are desperate to put that right in the capital tonight.

The Scarlets team features four changes from the starting XV that featured against Ulster in the European Rugby Champions Cup last weekend.

Liam Williams has been ruled out of the Guinness PRO12 clash with a sprained ankle, which means young full back Steffan Evans take his place and makes only his fourth start in the competition.

Harry Robinson makes a return on the wing against his former teammates while Aled Davies makes a return to the scrum half berth.

Jake Ball has recovered from a virus that kept him out of last week’s clash to return to the pack.

Cardiff Blues: Joaquin Tuculet, Alex Cuthbert, Cory Allen, Adam Thomas, Lucas Amorosino, Gareth Anscombe, Lewis Jones; Gethin Jenkins (captain), Kristian Dacey, Adam Jones, Filo Paulo, Lou Reed, Josh Turnbull, Sam Warburton, Josh Navidi.

Replacements: Matthew Rees, Sam Hobbs, Taufa’ao Filise, Macauley Cook, Manoa Vosawai, Tavis Knoyle, Gareth Davies, Tom Isaacs.

Scarlets: Steffan Evans, Harry Robinson, Regan King, Scott Williams (captain), Michael Tagicakibau, Rhys Priestland, Aled Davies; Rob Evans, Emyr Phillips, Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Johan Snyman, Aaron Shingler, James Davies, Rob McCusker.

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Wyn Jones, Rhodri Jones, Lewis Rawlins, Will Boyde, Rhodri Williams, Steven Shingler, Hadleigh Parkes

Newport Gwent Dragons

Centre Jack Dixon has been named in the Newport Gwent Dragons starting XV to face Zebre in the Guinness PRO12, having returned to full fitness after a wrist injury.

Alongside Dixon, Lyn Jones has made three personnel changes to his starting line-up for the Guinness PRO12 match at Rodney Parade on Sunday.

The second row sees one change as Andrew Coombs is joined by Rynard Landman, who also takes on the title of captain for this match, while in the back row Lewis Evans moves to the bench to make way for British and Irish Lion Taulupe Faletau to return to the side after the autumn internationals.

The replacements bench has also had a reshuffle as Tyler Morgan returns to the match-day squad. He is joined on the bench by Elliot Dee, Owen Evans, Lloyd Fairbrother, Cory Hill, Lewis Evans, Richie Rees and Dorian Jones.

Newport Gwent Dragons team to face Zebre at Rodney Parade on Sunday (16.00):

Tom Prydie, Matthew Pewtner, Ross Wardle, Jack Dixon, Hallam Amos, Jason Tovey, Jonathan Evans; Phil Price, T. Rhys Thomas, Brok Harris, Andrew Coombs, Rynard Landman (captain), James Thomas, Nic Cudd, Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Owen Evans, Lloyd Fairbrother, Cory Hill, Lewis Evans, Richie Rees, Dorian Jones, Tyler Morgan.

Ospreys

The Ospreys have named an unchanged starting line-up for their Guinness PRO12 game versus Ulster at Liberty Stadium tomorrow.

After two agonising close defeats against Racing Metro recently the Ospreys have decided to stick with the same team as they look to turnaround a home losing run against Ulster that hasn’t seen them beat the Irish province in Swansea since 2011.

Ospreys go into the match well positioned in the Guinness PRO 12 league table in second place and will look for a win to put clear daylight between them and fourth placed Ulster, who they currently sit above in the table on points difference.

Dan Lydiate is the only change to the region’s matchday squad and will make his Ospreys debut if he comes on from the bench.

Ospreys team to play against Ulster at Liberty Stadium tomorrow (17.15):

Dan Evans, Hanno Dirksen, Ashley Beck, Josh Matavesi, Eli Walker, Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Marc Thomas, Scott Baldwin, Dmitri Arhip, Rynier Bernardo, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), James King, Justin Tipuric, Tyler Ardron.

Replacements: Sam Parry, Gareth Thomas, Daniel Suter, Dan Lydiate, Sam Lewis, Martin Roberts, Sam Davies, Andrew Bishop.