Preview: Cardiff Blues v Dragons

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The second round of the Rainbow Cup sees Cardiff Blues return to the Arms Park for the first time since March as the Dragons are welcomed to the capital on Sunday, 1pm kick-off.

After beating Scarlets with a bonus point in round one, Dean Ryan’s men are the best placed Welsh side to compete in this exhibition tournament having finished the Guinness Pro14 season in strong fashion after a mid-campaign run of losses.

To carry that on they’ll need to win at the Arms Park for the first time since Boxing Day 2014 when a try from Elliot Dee and the boot of Tom Prydie secured a 17-23 victory. Since then there have been five straight wins for Cardiff at home, part of a run of 11 straight league successes for the Blue and Blacks.

The most recent of those came on Boxing Day just gone when a Josh Turnbull try and the boot of Jarrod Evans helped us to a 12-13 win at a rain-soaked Rodney Parade, the final win of the John Mulvihill era at the club.

In order to try and make it two from two, Ryan has made seven changes to his starting XV with big changes in the tight five as Josh Reynolds and Leon Brown form a new prop pairing, while Joe Davies and rumoured Cardiff signing Matthew Screech are the second row partnership. The back row remains the same but Ross Moriarty will captain from blindside flanker.

Gonzalo Bertranou is a new face at scrum-half, while the familiar frame of Jamie Roberts will line up at inside centre as Aneurin Owen shifts to the outside. At full-back on-loan Cardiff youngster Ioan Davies makes his Dragons debut.

Greg Bateman and Chris Coleman drop down to cover prop from the bench, while Ben Carter drops to cover the second row. Harri Keddie is recalled to back up the back row, as are Josh Lewis and Jack Dixon as outside back options.

Dragons: Ioan Davies, Jonah Holmes, Aneurin Owen, Jamie Roberts, Rio Dyer, Sam Davies, Gonzalo Bertranou; Josh Reynolds, Taylor Davies, Leon Brown, Joe Davies, Matthew Screech, Ross Moriarty (c), Taine Basham, Aaron Wainwright

Replacements: Rhys Lawrence, Greg Bateman, Chris Coleman, Ben Carter, Harrison Keddie, Dan Babos, Josh Lewis, Jack Dixon

Cardiff Blues, meanwhile, are looking to bounce back from the defeat to Ospreys as director of rugby Dai Young recalls a number of first teamers as part of nine changes to the experimental side that took the field in the Liberty Stadium.

Welsh internationals Rhys Carre, Dillon Lewis, Seb Davies and Cory Hill are back in the tight five, while Josh Turnbull and Olly Robinson form an experienced flanker pairing, and Sam Moore is fit again at number eight. In the backs Jamie Hill is in at scrum-half while British and Irish Lion Josh Adams starts on the wing. Ben Thomas moves to fly-half and Hallam Amos switches round to full-back.

On the bench James Ratti drops down to cover back row, while there are recalls for Brad Thyer, Kristian Dacey, Jarrod Evans and Willis Halaholo, with the former of that list making a first appearance since the win over the same opposition on Boxing Day.

Cardiff Blues: Hallam Amos, Jason Harries, Owen Lane, Max Llewellyn, Josh Adams, Ben Thomas, Jamie Hill; Rhys Carre, Kirby Myhill (c), Dillon Lewis, Seb Davies, Cory Hill, Josh Turnbull, Olly Robinson, Sam Moore

Replacements: Kristian Dacey, Brad Thyer, Will Davies-King, Teddy Williams, James Ratti, Ellis Bevan, Jarrod Evans, Willis Halaholo

Although conditions will still be wet after the previous 36 hours of rain, the weather is set to clear by the time the teams take the field at the Arms Park, which will hopefully suit a Cardiff Blues side that looks like it could operate in bad weather and when the game opens up a bit.

Imposing ourselves against a tight five we can potentially dominate will be key, in order to give the young midfield a chance to express themselves. Max Llewellyn v Jamie Roberts in the battle of the Ysgol Glantaf inside centres is a particularly intriguing clash.

With plenty of young faces on the bench there will hopefully be more opportunity to move the ball late on so if we can take a lead into that final quarter it would be a different learning experience for those future stars after chasing the game against Ospreys last time out. Come on Cardiff!

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