TOP BAR - Fixtures

Anscombe returns for Ospreys clash

Anscombe returns for Ospreys clash

Gareth Anscombe will make his long-awaited return from injury during Cardiff Blues’ Anglo Welsh Cup clash against the Ospreys at Cardiff Arms Park on Friday (KO 7.15pm)

The Welsh international is one of seven changes made from last week’s heavy defeat to Newcastle Falcons in the opening round of the cross-border competition.

Anscombe, who scored during last season’s Judgement Day win over Steve Tandy’s side, links up with Lewis Jones at half back, who replaces Dane Blacker in the starting XV.

The other change in the backline sees Steven Shingler slot in at inside centre, partnering Owen Lane in midfield. Tom James, Harri Millard and Rhun Williams retain their places in the side to make up the outside backs.

Four changes are made in the pack, including captain Gethin Jenkins, who returned from a lengthy injury spell during the bonus point win over Zebre a fortnight ago, and continues his comeback.

Kirby Myhill is the other change in the front row, while Damian Welch and Macauley Cook are also reintroduced in the pack.

Richard Hodges, who takes charge of the side for the Anglo Welsh Cup campaign, is looking forward to a Friday night derby in the capital city and is excited by the mix of experience and youth included in his side.

“We have more than half an eye on Connacht next week, so we’ll select what our side is there and see which players need rugby and want to integrate some of the youngsters,” said Hodges.

“What you will see this weekend is two very competitive, and I predict very close, derbies. Teams will pick like-for-like.

“We like the look of our side. It’s a real good mix of experience and youth. There are some boys who have had a long time out with injury who will be coming back for some capped game-time, and more boys who will be making their debut for the region, so it will be a good day for them as well.

“We’re at home, in a Welsh derby, with a strong spine to our side and we’re excited.”

Cardiff Blues academy’s Max Llewellyn and Cardiff RFC’s Luke Crocker could make their regional debuts off the bench if they are called into action.

Cardiff Blues: Rhun Williams; Harri Millard, Owen Lane, Steven Shingler, Tom James; Gareth Anscombe, Lewis Jones; Gethin Jenkins (C), Kirby Myhill, Anton Peikrishvili, George Earle, Damian Welch, Macauley Cook, Sion Bennett, Shane Lewis-Hughes

Replacements: Ethan Lewis, Rhys Carre, Keiron Assiratti, Ben Murphy, Luke Crocker, Dane Blacker, Ben Thomas, Max Llewellyn

To get all the latest news from Premiership Rugby sign up to our Newsletter