Toby Faletau back to spearhead Dragons' charge against Blues
TOBY Faletau will make his first start for Newport Gwent Dragons since October in the Boxing Day derby with Cardiff Blues in the capital.
The number eight, who was a replacement in the Amlin Challenge Cup 50-3 drubbing of Mogliano last weekend, is joined in the back row by captain Lewis Evans and openside Nic Cudd.
Andrew Coombs partners Rob Sidoli in the second row while Sam Parry is preferred at hooker to Hugh Gustafson.
Teenager Hallam Amos starts at full-back while Mike Poole and Will Harries are selected on the wings outside a powerful midfield of Andy Tuilagi and Pat Leach.
Dan Evans continues at fly-half and will be handed responsibility from the kicking tee as well as being told to pin the Blues back with his left peg.
The Blues retain former Dragons fly-half Jason Tovey in his secondary position of full-back and opt for Robin Copeland rather than Josh Navidi in the back row.
Blues: J Tovey, A Cuthbert, G Evans, D Hewitt, H Robinson, R Patchell, L Jones, S Hobbs, R Williams, S Andrews, B Davies, L Reed, R Copeland, S Warburton, A Pretorius (captain). Replacements: K Dacey, T Filise, B Bourrust, J Down, J Navidi, A Walker, C Sweeney, R Smith.
Dragons: H Amos, W Harries, P Leach, A Tuilagi, M Poole, D Evans, W Evans, P Price, S Parry, D Way, A Coombs, R Sidoli, L Evans (captain), N Cudd, T Faletau. Replacements: H Gustafson, O Evans, N Buck, A Jones, T Brown, J Evans, L Robling, J Dixon.