Ulster v Cardiff - RaboDirect PRO 12 match preview

Last Updated: 03/05/13 7:01pm

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Ulster require three points to ensure that they finish at the top of the RaboDirect PRO12 table and will hope to do so when they take on Cardiff Blues in the final match of the regular season.

Mark Anscombe's team have won their last three PRO12 matches and have lost just once at Ravenhill in the competition all season.

However, the Blues can take confidence from the fact they have recorded two away victories over Irish provinces this season.

Ulster have named British and Irish Lions absentee Rory Best in their starting XV while John Afoa, Johann Muller and Iain Henderson all return to the side.

Loosehead prop Callum Black is preferred to Tom Court in the front-row while Robbie Diack and Chris Henry both make their 100th appearance for the province and will start alongside each other in the back-row.

Paul Marshall starts at scrum-half, with Ruan Pienaar moving to fly-half. Stuart Olding who has scored two tries in his past two games, retains his spot at inside centre, with Darren Cave at 13.

British and Irish Lions winger, Tommy Bowe, is selected on the left wing with Andrew Trimble, who has scored ten tries for the province so far this season, starting on the right.

Cuthbert selected

Having been selected for the Lions on Tuesday, Alex Cuthbert will line up for the Blues in the last match of their season.

Cuthbert, who has recovered from a hamstring injury, is playing his first game since helping clinch the Six Nations championship for Wales with two tries against England.

Also in the backs Dan Fish starts at full-back having recovered from a shoulder injury. Rhys Patchell and Harry Robinson, who have both been selected in the Wales U20s squad for the IRB Junior World Championships in France, also start.

In the forwards Michael Paterson, playing his last game for the Blues before joining Sale Sharks, starts at number eight. Josh Navidi, Lou Reed, Bradley Davies and Scott Andrews, who are all included in the 32-man training squad to prepare for the forthcoming two-test tour of Japan, all start.

Ceri Sweeney and Tom James, who will be joining Exeter Chiefs, feature on the bench.

Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart Olding, 11 Tommy Bowe, 10 Ruan Pienaar, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Iain Henderson, 4 Johann Muller, 3 John Afoa, 2 Rory Best, 1 Callum Black.

Replacements: 16 Nigel Brady, 17 Tom Court, 18 Declan Fitzpatrick, 19 Dan Tuohy, 20 Sean Doyle, 21 Paddy Jackson, 22 Michael Allen, 23 Peter Nelson.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Gavin Evans (c), 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 Harry Robinson, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Michael Paterson, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Luke Hamilton, 5 Lou Reed, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Taufa'ao Filise.

Replacements: 16 Marc Breeze, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Campese Ma'afu, 19 Teofilo Paulo, 20 Macauley Cook, 21 Liam Davies, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Tom James.

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