Liam Belcher will captain Cardiff for the first time as the Blue and Blacks travel to Bristol for an Anglo-Welsh clash under Friday night lights (KO 7.45pm).
Dai Young’s men travel over the bridge to take on the Gallagher Premiership outfit, looking to maintain match sharpness ahead of a return to BKT United Rugby Championship action, with a trip to South Africa approaching later this month.
Friday’s clash is the first in a double-header between the sides, with the Bears travelling to the Welsh capital for a return fixture on the eve of the Wales vs England clash in February.
Hooker Belcher is joined by Brad Thyer and Keiron Assiratti in a new-look front row, with Matthew Screech and Rory Thornton forming the lock partnership.
Welsh international Ellis Jenkins returns to the seven jersey to make his first appearance of the campaign, after recovering from a knee injury, combining with Shane Lewis-Hughes and James Ratti in the back row.
Only a single change is made to the backline from the clash against Edinburgh a fortnight ago, with academy youngster Cameron Winnett replacing Ben Thomas at full back. Jarrod Evans and Lloyd Williams link up in a familiar half back partnership, while Mason Grady and Max Llewellyn continue as the midfield duo.
Jason Harries and Theo Cabango line up on the wings to complete the starting XV.
Director of rugby, Dai Young, said: “We’re really excited for the challenge on Friday, and what should be a thrilling occasion in Ashton Gate.
“As a squad, we were pleased overall with a positive first block of competitive rugby. But with four weeks between the Edinburgh match and a tough trip to South Africa, this fixture is a way of bridging the gap between the two blocks and ensure we maintain a level of match fitness.
“It’s an opportunity for us to test ourselves against a quality outfit. They pose a big physical challenge up front but also play a good brand of rugby, which will prepare us well for South Africa.
“So it’s about maintaining that competitive edge within the squad during this period of the season, while also handing opportunity for players to put their hands up and get some much needed game-time under their belts.
“It’s the first in a double-header with Bristol this season. Anglo-Welsh clashes are always ones to savour, and we’re looking forward to welcoming them to Cardiff in February.”
A number of squad’s youngsters are included on the bench, but there is experience in the form of James Botham, Aled Summerhill and Corey Domachowski.
Harri Millard is also involved in the matchday squad for the first time since pre-season, while academy outside half Ben Burnell is named in the first team’s matchday squad for the first time.
Cardiff: Cameron Winnett; Jason Harries, Mason Grady, Max Llewellyn, Theo Cabango; Jarrod Evans, Lloyd Williams; Brad Thyer, Liam Belcher (capt.), Keiron Assiratti, Matthew Screech, Rory Thornton, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Ellis Jenkins, James Ratti
Replacements: Efan Daniel, Corey Domachowski, Will Davies-King, Teddy Williams, Gwilym Bradley, James Botham, Ellis Bevan, Ben Burnell, Harri Millard, Aled Summerhill
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