Belcher captains Cardiff for return to URC action

Belcher captains Cardiff for return to URC action

Liam Belcher captains Cardiff as they return to BKT United Rugby Championship action against Connacht on Saturday (17:15).

A capacity crowd is anticipated at Cardiff Arms Park as the Blue and Blacks celebrate their annual Regional Club’s Day in the newly introduced Unity Round, which showcases players’ grassroots journeys.  

It will be the club’s first home appearance in the URC since the Boxing Day bonus-point victory over Dragons. 

Despite nine first team players remaining on international duty with Wales, Matt Sherratt has named a side with plenty of experience. He has been boosted by the release of Six Nations squad members Seb Davies and Mackenzie Martin, while new signing Ben Donnell goes straight into the starting XV. 

Sherratt said: “We’re all really excited to kick-off the second-half of the season and it’s also our Club’s Day with a lot of community players and coaches given free or discounted tickets, so we are expecting a bumper crowd. 

“We’re missing a lot of players through international duty, while Connacht are only really missing Bundi Aki and Finley Bealham, but if you look at our team there’s still a lot of experience there.

“We’ve talked about showing more of the same attitude and ambition to play as we have in the first block, but seeing if we can turn a couple of those close losses into wins because we've got a point from every game in the first nine rounds of the URC.

“It's showing that same kind of ambition and same physical effort but hopefully with a little bit of learning on top of that so we can maybe get those three or four point swings come our way.

“Connacht are a quality team. They play a similar attacking brand to ourselves. They are brave and like to use the ball so it will be a really good match up and hopefully an exciting game of rugby for a big crowd.”

Belcher packs down with Rhys Carré and Will Davies-King, while Shane Lewis-Hughes and Davies combine in the second-row. 

There is a new-look back-row with Ben Donnell, who arrived from Gloucester this week, making his debut, alongside Thomas Young and Lopeti Timani.

There is a familiar look to the back-line with Ellis Bevan partnering Tinus de Beer and, Ben Thomas and Rey Lee-Lo remaining in the centre. Owen Lane, Aled Summerhill and Jacob Beetham make up the back-three. 

Among the replacements, there is a return for Ciaran Parker, who suffered a torn hamstring while serving his suspension earlier this season. 

Cardiff Rugby: Jacob Beetham (Brecon); Owen Lane (Rhiwbina), Rey Lee-Lo (Karaka), Ben Thomas (St Peter’s / Llandaff), Aled Summershill (Porth Harlequins); Tinus de Beer (Blue Bulls), Ellis Bevan (Old Silhillians); Rhys Carré (St Joesph’s), Liam Belcher (Porth Harlequins), Will Davies-King (Chepshow), Shane Lewis-Hughes (Ferndale RFC), Seb Davies (Pentyrch), Ben Donnell (Winchester), Thomas Young (Aberdare), Lopeti Timani (Tonga Collage Atele).

Replacements: Efan Daniel (Treherbert), Rhys Barratt (Llantwit Fadre), Ciaran Parker (Manchester), Alun Lawrence (Llantrisant), Mackenzie Martin (Glamorgan Wanderers), Jamie Hill (Pontypridd), Arwel Robson (Penallta), Willis Halaholo (Suburbs).

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