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All four of Wales’ pro rugby teams are away this weekend for Guinness PRO14 action after an exciting Round 1 which saw the Championship kick off in flying style across Ireland and Wales with 37 tries (average 5.2 per game) scored in front of more than 54,000 supporters. The Toyota Cheetahs and the Southern Kings from South Africa made their bows in the Championship and their attacking approach has already won them plenty of admirers.

The Round 2 action begins on Friday night when Leinster Rugby host Cardiff Blues in Dublin where the two teams played out a thrilling game at the RDS last season scoring three tries apiece. The result went right to the wire with Leinster managing to claim a 22-21 victory after some incredible counter-attacking play from Cardiff Blues threatened an upset in the Irish capital.

Elsewhere on Friday night, Bernard Jackman’s Dragons are the visitors to Edinburgh and the Welsh side will be looking to bounce back from their opening-round loss to Leinster.

CARDIFF BLUES 

Cardiff Blues have made six changes to their starting line-up following a disappointing home defeat to Edinburgh and travel to Dublin with a much changed team and a determination to bounce back. Four of the changes come in the backline with full-back Rhun Williams making a welcome return to fitness to start ahead of Matthew Morgan.

Garyn Smith comes into the centre, Tom James, who made his 150th appearance last week, starts on the wing and Steve Shingler has been given the nod at fly-half.

There are two more, injury-forced, changes up front with Keiron Assiratti replacing Taufa’ao Filise and Macauley Cook starting on the blindside with Josh Turnbull switching to number eight.

Cardiff Blues head coach Danny Wilson admits the loss to Edinburgh was hard to take but he has called for a response at the RDS. He said: “The Edinburgh performance didn’t look any better on Monday but hopefully it is a quick fix. We have done some pretty physical contact work this week to put it right because it’s not like us.

“A week before we were extremely physical against a big Exeter side but we didn’t see that same edge and presence against Edinburgh. That’s the disappointing thing, especially when it’s your first home game in the league

“We have dealt with it, we have moved on and I know with this group we can bounce back and there is no better challenge than away to Leinster.”

Wilson was in the stands as Leinster kicked-off their season with a commanding victory over the Dragons.

And while he admits it is a daunting challenge, he insists his side can take confidence from their performance in Dublin at the end of the season, where they slipped to an agonising one-point loss.

He added: “Their defence was extremely aggressive against the Dragons and they have increased their line-speed.

“They were heavily competing at the breakdowns, especially in the wide channels and they obviously play a very attractive brand of rugby while also being able to overpower teams with a big pack of forwards.

“Leinster in Leinster is always a huge challenge whichever team you play but it’s one we will be motivated for. Last year we took them to the wire in a game which was won by one point and was arguably a game we could have nicked.

“It’s a strong test but we will draw on the confidence from the way we performed there last season and can hopefully produce something similar.”

Cardiff Blues: R Williams, A Cuthbert, G Smith, R Lee-Lo, T James; S Shingler, L Williams; R Gill, M Rees, K Assiratti, S Davies, D Welch, M Cook, J Navidi, J Turnbull. Replacements: K Myhill, C Domachowski, D Lewis, J Down, S Bennett, T Williams, J Evans, M Morgan.

DRAGONS

Dragons travel to Scotland for the second round of the newly named Guinness PRO14 campaign, as they look to bounce back from their loss in the opening round against Leinster.

Fullback Zane Kirchner, who made his first competitive debut for the Dragons against Leinster, retains his position in the back three alongside wings Ashton Hewitt and Hallam Amos. The centre partnership sees one change made to it as ex-Edinburgh player Sam Beard replaces Jack.

Dixon to play alongside Welsh International Tyler Morgan, whilst the half-backs see Gavin Henson and Charlie Davies hold their positions.

The front row also remains unchanged as props Brok Harris and Leon Brown are named alongside hooker Elliot Dee. However, there is one change in the second row as Rynard Landman replaces Matthew Screech, who moves to the bench, while lock Cory Hill remains in position.

Flankers James Thomas and James Benjamin are named alongside number 8 Harrison Keddie as no changes made in the back row.

Dragons number 8, Harrison Keddie played in the match against Edinburgh last season, where the Dragons were defeated narrowly to a 24-20 at Myreside. But Keddie believes that with a new set-up at the Region, it shouldn’t be the same result. “It’s one of those defeats that still annoys you now when you think about it.

“We were in a really promising position with 10 minutes remaining and ended up losing and not really sure what had happened. But that was last year and we have a new set-up here now with new systems. Hopefully, if we are in a position like that again it won’t be the same result and we will come away with the win.”

He continued: “Edinburgh are in a new era under Richard Cockerill now and will want to lay down a marker in their first game but it’s up to us to almost do what Leinster did to us last weekend. Nullify that first 20-30 minutes when they will come at us all guns blazing and then we’ve just got to execute our correct game plan, doing what we have been coached to do and prepared for.”

The replacements bench sees the inclusion of 19-year-old Owain Leonard who is set to make his first Dragons and PRO14 appearance off the bench.

Dragons team to face Edinburgh: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Ashton Hewitt, 13 Tyler Morgan 12, Sam Beard, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Gavin Henson, 9 Charlie Davies; 1 Brok Harris, 2 Elliot Dee, 3 Leon Brown, 4 Rynard Landman, 5 Cory Hill ©, 6 James Thomas, 7 James Benjamin, 8 Harrison Keddie Replacements: Rhys Buckley, Phil Price, Lloyd Fairbrother, Matthew Screech, Max Williams, Owain Leonard, Angus O’Brien, Adam Hughes.

OSPREYS

Ospreys visit to Glasgow will be one of the top billing clashes of Guinness PRO14 this weekend, with both teams boasting robust title credentials. Glasgow Warriors secured a durable win in Galway last weekend in their first game under head coach Dave Rennie and they will have the backing of a capacity crowd at Scotstoun.

Ospreys found life difficult at times against Zebre in Round 1, but the keen finishing ability of Keelan Giles ensured that they claimed victory at Liberty Stadium. Giles is a superb young talent whose breakthrough into the first team last season was marked by seven tries in 13 starts. Steve Tandy’s men have a reputation for growing stronger as the season progresses and a win in Scotland would send a clear signal about their intent to win a fifth Championship title. However, the Warriors have title ambitions of their own and this promises to be a cracker in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

Ospreys Head Coach, Steve Tandy, said: “It was a winning start to the season last weekend but we know that there is huge room for improvement in terms of performance. We started well, created a lovely team try, but never capitalised on that start. It was definitely a mixed bag of a performance and no one is hiding away from the truth, which is that we have to be much better than we were.

“The pleasing thing is that when we found ourselves in a sticky position towards the end we regrouped, stuck to what we had trained all week and got the outcome we needed. The focus this week has been on what happened in between, ensuring we are better throughout the full 80 and we get our processes and decision making right.

“There’s not many bigger challenges in the PRO14 than going to Scotstoun to face Glasgow so we know there is no two ways about it, we have to be on the money in all areas of our game, raising it several levels from where we were last weekend. With big games coming thick and fast, Munster at the Liberty next, a road trip to Italy and South Africa, and then the Scarlets, it’s crucial that we pick up speed over the coming weeks.”

The Ospreys team to play Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun on Saturday 9th September 2017, KO 3.15pm, is as follows: 15 Dan Evans; 14 Keelan Giles; 13 Kieron Fonotia; 12 Cory Allen; 11 Jeff Hassler; 10 Sam Davies; 9 Tom Habberfield; 1 Paul James: 2 Sam Parry; 3 Ma’afu Fia; 4 Bradley Davies; 5 Lloyd Ashley; 6 Olly Cracknell; 7 Justin Tipuric (Capt); 8 James King Replacements; 16 Scott Otten; 17 Nicky Smith; 18 Rhodri Jones; 19 Adam Beard; 20 Guy Mercer; 21 Reuben Morgan-Williams 22 James Hook; 23 Jay Baker

Paul James makes his 224th Ospreys appearance to set a new record for the region. Sam Davies and Tom Habberfield both make their 100th appearance for the Ospreys

SCARLETS

Scarlets head to Northern Italy to take on Zebre in the second round of the Guinness PRO14 looking to back up the opening victory.

Head coach Wayne Pivac has made three changes to the side that secured the win over the Southern Kings last Saturday. Leigh Halfpenny and Jake Ball are rested whilst James Davies misses out through injury, having to undergo shoulder surgery today.

Will Boyde comes in to the vacant openside flanker position in Davies’ place linking up with Aaron Shingler and captain John Barclay.

David Bulbring replaces Jake Ball in the second row alongside Tadhg Beirne whilst the front row remains unchanged. In the backs Johnny Mcnicholl moves to fullback whilst Tom Grabham comes in on the wing. Looking ahead to the clash Pivac said; “They have a new coach and the national coach in there helping them. This team that I saw on the weekend playing at the Liberty were very good.

“Their ball in play time has increased from last season. They’re going to pose a different challenge from last year I believe. They’re going to be a dangerous opponent as we saw on the weekend.

“We’re going to need to be up for this game, it has been a challenge for us in the past going to Italy and it’s going to be a good test for us this early in the season.”

Scarlets team to take on Zebre on Saturday 9th September at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, kick-off 8.35pm (local time) 15 Johnny Mcnicholl, 14 Tom Grabham, 13 Hadleigh Parkes, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Gareth Davies, 1 Rob Evans, 2 Ryan Elias, 3 Samson Lee, 4 David Bulbring, 5 Tadhg Beirne, 6 Aaron Shingler, 7 Will Boyde, 8 John Barclay © Replacements; Emyr Phillips, Wyn Jones, Werner Kruger, Tom Price, Josh Macleod, Aled Davies, Rhys Jones, Paul Asquith

Scarlets topped the Welsh Rugby charts in round 1 – Opta Top Performers wereDefenders beaten: 8 Steffan Evans (Scarlets); Offloads : 5 Steffan Evans (Scarlets); Breaks: 4 Johnny McNichol (Scarlets); Metres made: 209 Johnny McNichol (Scarlets); Turnovers won: 3 James Davies (Scarlets)