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RaboDirect PRO12: Friday team news and match previews

Last Updated: 21/03/14 2:02pm

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Alun-Wyn Jones: Named in Ospreys starting line-up for Welsh derby

Alun-Wyn Jones: Named in Ospreys starting line-up for Welsh derby

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The Ospreys are able to name a host of Wales internationals in their starting XV for their RaboDirect PRO12 derby with Cardiff Blues at Liberty Stadium on Friday.

With the Six Nations finished, Dan Biggar, Alun-Wyn Jones, Rhys Webb and Justin Tipuric have all been included in a strong-looking line-up.

At the other end of the scale, head coach Steve Tandy has handed 21-year-old No 8 Dan Baker his first PRO12 start.

Centre Cory Allen makes a long-awaited return for the Blues after being out of club action since the end of October with a shoulder injury.

Wales wing Alex Cuthbert comes back into the starting XV with Dan Fish moving to full-back, while scrum-half Lloyd Williams also makes a return.

Prop Gethin Jenkins captains the aside as he plays in a new-look front row alongside hooker Rhys Williams and Taufa'ao Filise, who makes his first start of 2014.

In total, Cardiff make seven changes to the side which lost to Zebre three weeks ago. The ospreys are big favourites to claim a victory which would give them some breathing room over Glasgow in the race for the top four.

Big favourites

Elsewhere on Friday, league leaders Leinster will be expected to clinch a comfortable success when they face Italian strugglers Zebre at the RDS.

Coach Matt O’Connor will be without several members of the Ireland squad, who have been given the week off after winning the Six Nations, but is still able to name an experienced side.

Fly-half Ian Madigan will make his 100th appearance for Leinster and will play alongside scrum-half Isaac Boss, with Eoin Reddan on the bench.

Luke Fitzgerald makes a welcome return on the wing, while Leo Cullen captains the side from the second row.

Italy lock Marco Bortolami will captain Zebre for their visit to Dublin. Other notable names for the visitors include Giovanbattista Vendetti  at outside centre and Brendon Leonard at scrum-half.

Italy trio Quentin Geldenhuys, Luciano Orquera and Leonardo Sarto are all rested following the Six Nations. Zebre upset Cardiff last time out but are huge outsiders against Leinster.  

Three changes

Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons makes three changes to his starting line-up for the clash with Ulster at Murrayfield.

Props Willem Nel and Alasdair Dickinson and come in for Wicus Blaauw and Geoff Cross, while Tom Brown plays on the wing with Jack Cuthbert switching to full-back, Carl Bezuidenhout moving to fly-half and Harry Leonard dropping to the bench.

For Ulster, Stephen Ferris continues his comeback from injury with a berth in the starting line-up to follow on from his appearance from the bench against the Scarlets last week. The flanker had previously been out since November 2012 with an ankle injury.

UIster are looking to keep the pressure up on fellow Irish outfits Leinster and Munster at the top of the table and go into the contest as reasonably comfortable favourites despite their opponents enjoying home advantage.

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