Heineken Cup preview: Cardiff Blues v Glasgow Warriors at Cardiff Arms Park
Last Updated: 06/12/13 2:43pm
Glasgow's Alastair Kellock to make his 50th Heineken Cup appearance
Cardiff Blues and the Glasgow Warriors will both be looking to give their Heineken Cup qualification chances a boost when the pair meet at Cardiff Arms Park on Friday night.
Glasgow skipper Alastair Kellock will make his 50th Heineken Cup appearance. The Warriors' lock will rack up his 30th run-out in the competition for his current club having already turned out 20 times for former side Edinburgh.
Following last week's 28-16 win over Ospreys, Stuart Hogg continues at full-back and DTH van der Merwe keeps his place on the left wing, with Sean Maitland coming in on the right side to replace Tommy Seymour.
Alex Dunbar makes a welcome return at inside centre, following a seven-week spell on the sidelines with a neck and shoulder injuries and will partner Argentina international Gabriel Ascarate in a new centre pairing.
Duncan Weir replaces Ruaridh Jackson at fly-half and Niko Matawalu comes in for Chris Cusiter at scrum-half. In the front row Ryan Grant continues at loose-head, while Dougie Hall is at hooker and Moray Low comes in at tight-head.
Tom Ryder partners Kellock in the second row, while Josh Strauss and Rob Harley continue at number eight and blind-side flanker, with Chris Fusaro replacing Tyrone Holmes at open-side.
Townsend said: "We're really looking forward to this double header with Cardiff Blues and we know the outcome of these game will be pivotal to our hopes of progressing in the tournament."
A minute's silence will be observed prior to kick-off on Friday as a mark of respect for those who died in last week's helicopter crash in Glasgow, while the Warriors will also wear black armbands during the game.
Meanwhile, second-row giant Chris Dicomidis, a recent recruit from Pontypridd, is one of eight changes made by Cardiff Blues Director of Rugby Phil Davies from the side that drew with Benetton Treviso last weekend in Italy.
Returning Wales stars Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert and Lloyd Williams are recalled to the backline while fit-again duo Rhys Patchell and Harry Robinson are also named in the starting line-up.
Prop Sam Hobbs will captain the side and is joined in the front row by hooker Kristian Dacey. Rory Watts-Jones will make his first start of the season and appearance in Europe for Blues at openside flanker.
"The last few weeks have been a positive for us," said Davies. "There have been some good periods when we have been consistent and it's an exciting challenge for us with some players coming back."
Cardiff Blues: Halfpenny, Cuthbert, Smith, Hewitt, Robinson, Patchell, Williams; Hobbs (c), Dacey, Filise, Dicomidis, Paulo, Cook, Watts-Jones, Copeland.
Replacements: Breeze, Davies, Bourrust, Hamilton, Jenkins, Jones, Davies, Fish.
Glasgow Warriors: Hogg, Maitland, Ascarate, Dunbar, van der Merwe, Weir, Matawalu; Grant, Hall, Low, Ryder, Kellock, Harley, Fusaro, Strauss.
Replacements: MacArthur, Welsh, Kalman, Nakarawa, Holmes, Wilson, Cusiter, Jackson.
Watch the Blues take on Glasgow on Sky Sports 1 on Friday evening, with coverage from 7.30pm. Or press the red button for Castres against the Ospreys.