Dragons must show spirit against European champs
DRAGONS v LEINSTER (tomorrow, KO 7pm)
A CHILLY Rodney Parade in the heart of Newport contrasts starkly to a sun-kissed Royal Dublin Society in affluent, leafy Ballsbridge.
But full-back Dan Evans hopes that Newport Gwent Dragons show the same daring spirit tonight that rattled Leinster when the sides locked horns in September.
The European champions were convincing winners on a glorious evening in the Irish capital.
Yet despite the 45-25 scoreline they were made to sweat for their spoils.
The Dragons headed back over the Irish Sea with regrets that they failed to take a golden opportunity for a pair of bonus points after a stirring fightback.
A RaboDirect Pro12, week two drubbing looked on the cards when Leinster’s fourth try made it 38-12 with half an hour left.
Instead the Dragons fought back and Evans set up Tom Prydie for try number two before the roles were reversed for a third.
Alas, chances for a fourth were missed in the final quarter but the 24-year-old full-back believes that performance gives reason for hope against the in-form Irishmen.
“We scored three good tries out in Dublin and played some nice stuff,” said Evans, who has crossed the whitewash seven times in his first season with the Dragons.
“We need to show the same belief tomorrow night and I hope to get plenty of chances to get the ball in my hands.
“Last week wasn’t a running game against Zebre – the conditions were terrible – but we want to spread the ball against Leinster and cause some damage.”
That win in Parma was the Dragons fourth in five games, yet it is the solitary defeat that still looms large.
The 60-3 humilation at the hands of Glasgow a fortnight ago means that patience will be in short supply among the fans that do return to Rodney Parade tomorrow.
“We have gone behind early in our last three games and we cannot afford to make life hard for ourselves against Leinster,” said Evans.
“They are a strong side and we must not give them any opportunities because they punish the smallest mistakes, as they showed against the Scarlets last weekend.
“We need to show the spirit and belief that got us through against Zebre.”
Leinster head to Newport on a seven-game winning streak, five of those successes coming with bonus points.
Their free-scoring form has fired them up to third in the Pro12 table and to the top of the points chart.