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Thomas set for 50th appearance in Scarlets derby

First Team News | 6th January 2023

Ben Thomas will make his 50th Cardiff appearance as the Blue and Blacks welcome Scarlets to the capital on Saturday (KO 5.15pm).

Dai Young’s side head into their third consecutive derby, looking to bounce back after suffering a late defeat to Ospreys last week.

Utility back Thomas graduated from the academy to make his debut in the 2019 BKT URC victory over Benetton. The twice-capped Welsh international continues his midfield partnership with Rey Lee-Lo in an unchanged backline.

Liam Williams will face his former side, linking up with Josh Adams and Owen Lane in the back three, with Tomos Williams and Jarrod Evans forming a familiar half back partnership.

The only changes to the side come in the front row, as Dmitri Arhip returns from a shoulder injury and Kirby Myhill takes the place of Liam Belcher, who departed with a neck injury in the first half against Ospreys.

Lopeti Timani and Seb Davies will once again pair up at lock, with the back row trio of Taulupe Faletau, Thomas Young and captain Josh Turnbull remaining unchanged.

Young said: “We were disappointed with our loss to the Ospreys, and parts of our performance, but there were also elements we were pleased with and that’s what we are looking to build on this week.

“We stuck in the game and played some good rugby when we had the ball but this week we need to be much more disciplined in terms of sticking to our structures and systems. 

“It is great to have another Welsh derby at the Arms Park and we are expecting another big crowd so it will be brilliant occasion for us.

“The Scarlets won here last season and they have won three of their last four games so they will be coming here with confidence and looking to continue their upward trajectory and we have to stop that.

“I’ve always been a massive believer in continuity in selection and we’re starting to build a bit of togetherness. You have to earn your jersey and we’ve been consistent in selection because the boys have played well. 

“We have trained well this week and the boys are all looking forward to a big Welsh derby in front of a packed Arms Park.”

Young hooker Efan Daniel, who made his URC debut last January, is introduced into the match-day 23 for the first time this season, as Rhys Priestland recovers from an ankle injury to take his place amongst the replacements.

With six wins under their belts this season, the Blue and Blacks currently sit in the BKT United Rugby Championship play off spots and top the Welsh Shield rankings, with a five-point advantage over second placed Ospreys.

Cardiff: Liam Williams; Owen Lane, Rey Lee-Lo, Ben Thomas, Josh Adams; Jarrod Evans, Tomos Williams; Rhys Carré, Kirby Myhill, Dmitri Arhip, Lopeti Timani, Seb Davies, Josh Turnbull (capt.), Thomas Young, Taulupe Faletau

Replacements: Efan Daniel, Corey Domachowski, Keiron Assiratti, Teddy Williams, Ellis Jenkins, Lloyd Williams, Rhys Priestland, Mason Grady

Unavailable for selection: Josh Navidi, Willis Halaholo, Jacob Beetham, Gwilym Bradley, Jamie Hill, Max Llewellyn, Theo Cabango, Dillon Lewis, Liam Belcher