Welsh international Cory Allen returns to the starting line-up for the Cardiff Blues ahead of tonight’s eagerly anticipated all Welsh clash against the Ospreys.
Allen, who hasn’t featured for the Blues since the end of October after picking up a shoulder injury in the autumn internationals for Wales, has been named at 13 for the game at the Liberty Stadium. The Blues are short of form, having gone four games without a win since their 35-5 LV= Cup victory against Harlequins on January 31.
They have won only one of their last nine RaboDirect PRO12 games and crashed to a 15-10 at the hands of bottom-of-the-table Zebre in their most recent match.
Caretaker coaches Paul John and Dale McIntosh will be in charge of the Blues for the first time tonight after replacing director of rugby Phil Davies who resigned earlier this month.
They have made a total of seven changes to the losing side in Parma. The Blues have the boost of Welsh internationals Alex Cuthbert and Gethin Jenkins returning to their ranks to face a playoff-chasing Ospreys side.
A new-look front row will see Jenkins captain the team alongside hooker Rhys Williams and Taufa’ao Filise, with the Tongan tighthead prop making his first start of the calendar year.
Dan Fish moves to full-back, while scrum-half Lloyd Williams also makes his comeback as he combines with Gareth Davies at half back. The final change for Blues is the inclusion of back row Ellis Jenkins at openside flanker.
The Ospreys have won their last 12 contests with fellow Welsh regions in the PRO12, and with Glasgow Warriors nipping at their heels for the last play-off spot, they can ill-afford any slip-ups over the next few weeks.
They lie fourth in the PRO12 with 46 points, almost double the 24 points of 10th placed Blues. Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy welcomes a host of internationals back into the side, with Rhys Webb, Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric all starting. Ospreys v Cardiff Blues kicks off at the Liberty Stadium at 7.05pm tonight.
Ospreys: Sam Davies; Jeff Hassler, Jonathan Spratt, Ashley Beck, Aisea Natoga; Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Duncan Jones, Scott Baldwin, Aaron Jarvis, Ryan Jones, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Sam Lewis, Dan Baker, Justin Tipuric. Replacements: Scott Otten, Marc Thomas, Adam Jones, James King, Joe Bearman, Morgan Allen, Tom Habberfield, Hanno Dirksen.
Cardiff Blues: Dan Fish; Alex Cuthbert, Cory Allen, Gavin Evans, Harry Robinson; Gareth Davies, Lloyd Williams; Gethin Jenkins (capt), Rhys Williams, Taufa’ao Filise, Chris Dicomidis, Filo Paulo, Ellis Jenkins, Robin Copeland, Josh Navidi. Replacements: Kristian Dacey, Sam Hobbs, Scott Andrews, Lou Reed, Macauley Cook, Lewis Jones, Simon Humberstone, Isaia Tuifua.