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All four of Welsh Rugby’s professional teams will be battling it out on New Year’s Eve as the second round of festive derbies sets to thrill two packed houses at Cardiff Arms Park and Rodney Parade.

The Cardiff Blues host the Guinness PRO14 Conference B topping Scarlets in the capital (3.15pm) followed by an equally intense encounter at Rodney Parade (5.35pm) as the Dragons take on the Ospreys.

CARDIFF BLUES v SCARLETS, Cardiff Arms Park, December 31st 3.15pm

Taufa’ao Filise will make his 250th appearance for Cardiff Blues as one of five changes for the sold out Guinness PRO14 derby with the Scarlets on New Year’s Eve.

The tight-head prop returns to the starting line-up at Cardiff Arms Park after serving a three-match suspension and reaches the milestone alongside Josh Navidi, who makes his 150th appearance.

Three of the changes to the starting line-up that claimed a Boxing Day victory over the Dragons come up front, with Rhys Gill also returning from injury and Josh Turnbull selected in the second-row.

In the backs, Willis Halaholo returns, to reform his centre partnership with Rey Lee-Lo, and following a try-scoring appearance from the bench last week, Tom James starts on the wing.

Cardiff Blues head coach Danny Wilson said: “It’s a phenomenal and very rare achievement to make 250 appearances for one team, particularly in the modern era.

“Fa’ao’s a very popular member of the squad, is a consummate professional and you could not ask for a better occasion for him to hit this milestone than a sold out Welsh derby at the Arms Park.

“Similarly it’s a great achievement for Josh, who is now being recognised on the international stage, and has been a brilliant servant for the region for a number of years.”

The Blues have also been boosted by the return to fitness of a quartet of Wales internationals. Kristian Dacey, Dillon Lewis, Ellis Jenkins and Alex Cuthbert have all been named among the replacements following injury.

Wilson continued: “It is great to have players coming back to fitness and competition for places following a period where we were quite limited in terms of selection.

“That is what we need during this vital period of the season and we’re very much looking forward to what promises to be a brilliant occasion against the reigning champions.

“We are going into the clash on the back of some good form, with seven wins from our last 10 first-team fixtures and five in a row at home, but we are under no illusions of the challenge the Scarlets present.”

Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan; Owen Lane, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Tom James; Gareth Anscombe, Tomos Williams; Rhys Gill, Matthew Rees (capt), Taufa’ao Filise, Seb Davies, Josh Turnbull, Josh Navidi, Olly Robinson, Nick Williams.

Replacements: Kristian Dacey, Brad Thyer, Dillon Lewis, George Earle, Ellis Jenkins, Lloyd Williams, Jarrod Evans, Alex Cuthbert.

The Boxing Day victory over regional rivals Ospreys saw the Scarlets hold on to their Conference B lead and will look to pick up vital points in their final Guinness PRO14 clash of 2017.

Scarlets centre Scott Williams will lead the Scarlets in the second derby clash of the festive season with Tom Prydie and Paul Asquith coming in on the wings for injured Johnny Mcnicholl and suspended Steff Evans. Wyn Jones and Ryan Elias join Werner Kruger in the front row with Steve Cummins joining Tadhg Beirne in the second row.

Match winner Josh Macleod will start on the blindside flank with James Davies and Will Boyde at openside and number 8 respectively.

Looking ahead to the New Year’s Eve derby clash in the Guinness PRO14 Wayne Pivac said; “We have the utmost respect for the Blues and we can’t get carried away with Tuesday’s result.

“It’s similar to the Ospreys, the formbook goes out the window when you head into derby matches. We only have to look back to the home game here when we were up 18-3 at half time and virtually with a blink of an eye it was 18-17.

“They have a lot of quality there and when they put it together they are a very dangerous team. We’re heading in to their backyard, they’re chasing that third spot hard and they have a lot to play for. Their win against the Dragons on Boxing Day keeps them alive. We’re expecting a very tough challenge on New Year’s Eve.”

Scarlets team to take on Cardiff Blues, Sunday 31st December, KO 3.15pm; 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Hadleigh Parkes, 12 Scott Williams ©, 11 Paul Asquith, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Gareth Davies, 1 Wyn Jones, 2 Ryan Elias, 3 Werner Kruger, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 5 Steve Cummins, 6 Josh Macleod, 7 James Davies, 8 Will Boyde

Replacements; Ken Owens, Rob Evans, Simon Gardiner, David Bulbring, Lewis Rawlins, Aled Davies, Dan Jones, Ioan Nicholas

DRAGONS v OSPREYS, Rodney Parade, Newport, 31st December, 5.35pm

Head Coach Bernard Jackman makes eight changes to the Dragons side that suffered a narrow defeat to Cardiff Blues last weekend at a sold-out Rodney Parade.

Returning to the side to face Ospreys on New Year’s Eve, are fullback Carl Meyer, Sam Beard and Dan Babos who have all been selected following their recovery from injury, as well as Jared Rosser, Lloyd Fairbrother, Rynard Landman and Ben Roach.

In the back three Meyer joins wings Ashton Hewitt and Jared Rosser, as he replaces Hallam Amos who suffered an ankle injury during the Boxing Day match. The centre partnership sees Sam Beard return from injury as he joins Jack Dixon, whilst the half-backs are all change as youngsters Arwel Robson and Dan Babos get the nod.

The front row sees Lloyd Fairbrother return to the starting XV as he replaces Nicky Thomas and joins fellow prop Sam Hobbs and hooker Elliot Dee, The second row has one change made to it as Rynard Landman joins skipper Cory Hill with the back row also having one change made to it as flanker Ben Roach joins Aaron Wainwright and number 8 James Benjamin.

Jack Dixon, who has been named in the matchday XV once again for this Ospreys clash, commented; “I thought that we did well to come back into it at the end. I feel that we are going in the right direction and performances are coming now, we just need to keep growing as a team and the results will follow.”

He continued: “It’s a short turn around now as its straight into the Ospreys, so we have to bounce back. As a team, we are looking forward to the match on New Year’s Eve and hopefully, we will get a better result and then kick off into 2018 well.”

The replacements bench sees the inclusion of Jarryd Sage who will make his Dragons senior debut.

Dragons team to face Ospreys: 15 Carl Meyer, 14 Ashton Hewitt, 13 Sam Beard, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Jared Rosser, 10 Arwel Robson, 9 Dan Babos; 1 Sam Hobbs, 2 Elliot Dee, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 4 Cory Hill ©, 5 Rynard Landman, 6 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Ben Roach, 8 James Benjamin.

Replacements; Liam Belcher, Thomas Davies, Nicky Thomas, Robson Blake, James Sheekey, Sarel Pretorius, Angus O’Brien, Jarryd Sage.

Supporters are urged to act quickly if they want a seat as the Bisley Stand is almost sold out, with Hazell Stand tickets also selling quickly. You can buy online to save queueing by visiting the Dragons website at

Ospreys Head Coach Steve Tandy says his team are ready to go again and are looking forward to another huge game in the Guinness Pro14.

He said: “There’s a quick turnaround from Boxing Day but we were straight back in on Wednesday morning to begin preparations for Sunday and are ready to go again.

“With the Dragons this weekend followed by the Blues at the Liberty next Saturday, that’s another couple of huge games played in front of big crowds with real intensity and we have to make sure that we are up for the challenge.

“There was plenty of character and effort against the Scarlets in conditions that made life difficult for both teams and negated the influence of the extra man following their red card with the necessity to play a tight game. We got ourselves into a winning position so were incredibly disappointed not to see it through, losing the way we did at the last play.

“We’ll keep working hard as a collective to put it right on the field, we know the difference back to back PRO14 wins would make. We also understand that won’t happen by chance and we have to transfer the good work in training to the match day.

“The supporters have been fantastic and continue to get behind the team and that is all you can ask for as a player or coach. We want to make sure we end the year on a positive for them, taking that momentum into a busy January with some huge games coming up that we can all look forward to.”

Ospreys team to play the Dragons at Rodney Parade on Sunday 31st December 2017, KO 5.35pm, is as follows: 15 Dan Evans; 14 Hanno Dirksen; 13 Kieron Fonotia; 12 Owen Watkin; 11 Jeff Hassler; 10 Dan Biggar; 9 Rhys Webb; 1 Nicky Smith; 2 Scott Baldwin; 3 Dmitri Arhip; 4 Bradley Davies; 5 Adam Beard; 6 Dan Lydiate (Capt); 7 Justin Tipuric; 8 Olly Cracknell

Replacements: 16 Scott Otten; 17 Paul James; 18 Ma’afu Fia; 19 Alun Wyn Jones; 20 Rob McCusker; 21 Tom Habberfield; 22 Sam Davies; 23 Ashley Beck