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Belcher marks 50th first team appearance in Dragons derby

First Team News | 12th May 2022

Liam Belcher will mark his 50th first team appearance as Cardiff name an unchanged side for Friday’s United Rugby Championship trip to face the Dragons (KO 7.35pm).

The Blue and Blacks travel to Rodney Parade on the back of a bonus-point win over Zebre Parma in their last Arms Park fixture of the season. 

Attention now turns to the final Welsh derby of the season and academy graduate Belcher becomes the latest member of the squad to reach a significant milestone, as he wears the number two jersey against his former side.

Rhys Carré and Dmitri Arhip line-up either side of the hooker, with Seb Davies and Matthew Screech continuing their partnership behind. Captain Josh Navidi is joined by James Ratti and James Botham in the back row.

Lloyd Williams will move within nine appearances of 250 for the club as he forms an experienced half back duo with Rhys Priestland.

Owen Lane and Max Llewellyn were both on the scoresheet last week and retain their spots in the backline.

The only change in the match-day squad sees the return of club captain Josh Turnbull to the bench, having been sidelined with a calf injury since March.

Cardiff director of rugby, Dai Young, said: “We were pleased to secure a bonus-point victory over Zebre last week and we played really well in the first half. In the second-half we perhaps got a bit individualistic and drifted away from our structures, and we cannot afford to do that against the Dragons.

“This is a massive game for them, on their home patch, and they will be desperate to get one over their nearest rivals. They are a very physical, abrasive team so we will need to be at our best if we want to back up last week’s win.

“We have some continuity in selection and the opportunity to finish the season on a high, which is exactly what the boys are determined to do as we continue to build.

“There is never any lack of motivation for a Welsh derby but we also want to play an attacking brand of rugby and perform for the full 80 minutes.”

While the Dragons are searching for their first home win of the season, Cardiff are yet to win on the road but they are aiming to extend their 12-game winning streak over the Gwent club with the most recent victory coming at Arms Park earlier in the season.

Cardiff Rugby: Matthew Morgan; Owen Lane, Rey Lee-Lo, Max Llewellyn, Theo Cabango: Rhys Priestland, Lloyd Williams; Rhys Carré, Liam Belcher, Dmitri Arhip, Seb Davies, Matthew Screech, James Botham, Josh Navidi (capt.), James Ratti

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Corey Domachowski, Dillon Lewis, Josh Turnbull, Ellis Jenkins, Ellis Bevan, Ben Thomas, Mason Grady