Ospreys have only lost twice at the Liberty Stadium since October 2017, but Welsh rivals Cardiff Blues will be hoping to upset their outstanding home record.
The Blues have reigned supreme in their last two Welsh derby clashes and they have the chance to make it a hat-trick on their travels.
What’s at stake?
Only one point separates Ospreys and Cardiff Blues with both teams hovering in mid-table of Conference A after the first 12 rounds of fixtures.
A win for either side would bring them back into the mix with the top three, with Ospreys trailing Connacht by just three points in the table.
Team news (Ospreys):
Allen Clarke has made three changes from the last outing as Cory Allen comes in at 13 and Wales international flanker Sam Cross starts.
Meanwhile, Wales international prop Rhodri Jones is handed the No.1 shirt.
Team news (Cardiff Blues):
Former Osprey star Dmitri Arhip returns to his old haunts and is set to start after being among the replacements for the Blues.
Another former Osprey, Matthew Morgan, replaces Dan Fish at full-back, while Tomos Williams is given the nod at No.9.
Rhys Gill returns to the starting pack alongside Olly Robinson, who replaces George Earle, and Wales international Seb Davies is given a starting berth at lock. There is also good news with the return of Owen Lane on the bench after a spell on the sidelines.
What they said:
Ospreys head coach Allen Clarke said:
“There’s been a positive reaction from the whole squad in training this week; it’s now essential we carry that into the match at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.
“Our execution needs to be better and we must be more clinical to finish off the opportunities we are creating. We dominated many aspects of the game versus the Dragons but we need to translate that dominance onto the scoreboard.
“We know that we are going to have to be at our best against a Cardiff side who are confident on the back of two wins over the Christmas period.
“The boys are really looking forward to the challenge and to playing at home again in front of our supporters who created a brilliant atmosphere when we were last at home against the Scarlets. Their support really energises the team and is truly appreciated.”
Cardiff Blues head coach John Mulvihill said:
“We’ve set ourselves nicely after the win last week, but if we get another win this week, and Leinster do us a favour down in Connacht, we’ll be sitting where we need to be.
“It’s then down to us and will be in our hands, as we’ll play Connacht twice and Ospreys again before the end of the season.
“There is a lot of rugby ahead for us, with nine Guinness PRO14 games to go, and if we win most of those, then we should be there.
“Dmitri [Arhip] doesn’t say a lot, but his energy around the group has been great. He’s really keen to be starting this week and getting a long overdue win for this group down in Swansea.
“It’s a big boost to get him back. You saw when he came on last week for the last 20, the scrums were rock solid and didn’t move. We can build a platform around that.
“The selection in that position each week is hard because we also have Dillon Lewis, Scott Andrews and Keiron Assiratti all fit and performing well.”
Key players: Scott Williams v Rey Lee-Lo
Rey Lee-Lo was at his very best to help his side down Scarlets in their last match and Scott Williams will have a job on his hands to contain the Samoan international.
Lee-Lo clinched two stunning tries against Dragons to end Scarlets’ 27-month unbeaten home record in style and a similar performance would be greatly welcomed by his boss John Mulvihill.
But Wales international Williams is certainly used to performing on the big stage as shown by his stunning solo try that clinched his nation the 2012 Six Nations Grand Slam.
Key stat: Cardiff Blues’ only previous victory at the Liberty Stadium in the Guinness PRO14 was in December 2005.
Did you know? Ospreys have lost just once to Cardiff Blues in the league since 2010: 35-17 at the Principality Stadium on Judgement Day in 2017.
Ospreys: Dan Evans, George North, Cory Allen, Scott Williams, Luke Morgan, Sam Davies, Aled Davies, Rhodri Jones, Scott Baldwin, Tom Botha, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones, Olly Cracknell, Justin Tipuric (c), Sam Cross
Replacements: Scott Otten, Gareth Thomas, Alex Jeffries, Lloyd Ashley, James King, Tom Habberfield, Luke Price, Owen Watkin
Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan; Blaine Scully, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Garyn Smith; Gareth Anscombe, Tomos Williams; Rhys Gill, Kristian Dacey (c), Dmitri Arhip, Seb Davies, Josh Turnbull, Josh Navidi, Olly Robinson, Nick Williams
Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Brad Thyer, Dillon Lewis, George Earle, Rory Thornton, Lloyd Williams, Steven Shingler, Owen Lane
TV: At Liberty Stadium, Swansea, 3pm. Live on Premier Sports 1 & eir Sport 2
Referee: Ben Whitehouse
Assistant Referees: Elgan Williams and Dewi Phillips
TMO: Ian Davies
First-half tries from Scott Williams and George North handed the Ospreys victory over Cardiff Blues in the Guinness PRO14 at the Liberty Stadium.
Allan Clarke’s side bounced back from their disappointing defeat to Dragons last weekend with a controlling performance against their Conference A rivals as they triumphed 20-11.
Williams and North both crossed either side of a Garyn Smith try for the Blues to give Ospreys a 14-8 lead at the break, before Sam Davies added a penalty and drop goal to secure the win.
There was a long delay to play after the opening couple of minutes when Ospreys lock Adam Beard appeared to suffer a neck injury following an awkward collision in the ruck.
Play was stopped for almost ten minutes as Beard was stretchered off the field, but the hosts did not let the setback get to them and they soon took the lead when the game got back underway.
Strong carries from Williams and Davies saw Ospreys enter the Blues’ 22 before Williams received the ball back and shrugged off Josh Navidi to crash over, with Davies adding the extras.
— Ospreys (@ospreys) January 5, 2019
The visitors hit back immediately, though, with Gareth Anscombe finding Smith with a perfectly weighted cross-field kick before the 23-year-old centre finished the move off.
Despite being pegged back, Ospreys remained in control up front and after forcing a penalty and kicking to the corner Williams came close to adding his second score of the game.
Ospreys did eventually extend their lead on 20 minutes, with Davies finding North with another well-judged kick on the far side before the big winger dotted down, with the conversion also added.
Cardiff managed to gain some territory just before the break and made it count when Williams was penalised for a high tackle, allowing Anscombe to cut the deficit to 14-8 at half-time.
But the hosts continued to control the ball after the interval and restored their nine-point advantage with a Davies penalty, before Anscombe responded with three points of his own on the hour.
Further Ospreys attacks came up just short as Blues managed to keep in touch until Davies nailed a long-range drop goal to seal victory with just a minute left on the clock.
The victory sees Ospreys open up a five-point lead in Conference A over Cardiff, who suffered their first Welsh derby defeat of the festive period after back-to-back wins over Dragons and Scarlets.