Dragons get a chance of redemption on Parade
DRAGONS v LEINSTER (tonight, KO 7pm)
TONIGHT isn’t just a shot at redemption for Newport Gwent Dragons, it’s a chance to claim a first big scalp of the season.
It has largely been a season to forget for the Rodney Parade region but unfortunately the memories are still fresh from a fortnight ago.
The sight of Glasgow running in eight tries in a humiliating 60-3 victory in Newport is burned into the minds of the home fans.
Some headed for the exits early, pledging that they would not return, and it will be interesting to see how many seats are empty this evening. Those that do venture back will be demanding a lot, lot better from their side.
And a dramatic improvement is required if the Dragons are to get anything from a tough RaboDirect Pro12 run-in.
Five of their six remaining fixtures are against sides that are in the mix for the playoffs – and this season’s form against such teams doesn’t make pretty reading.
The Dragons have won nine fixtures this season but none of those victims are big guns.
They have tasted success five times in the RaboDirect Pro12 – a double over winless Zebre plus victories against 10th-placed Edinburgh, ninth-placed Connacht and eighth-placed Treviso.
They have beaten the Ospreys’ youngsters and Aviva Premiership strugglers London Welsh in the LV= Cup along with Italian part-timers Mogliano twice in the Amlin Challenge Cup.
But regardless of the opposition beaten, the Dragons do head into this evening’s game in their best form of the campaign.
The defeat against Glasgow may have been an apocalyptic one but it is their only loss since mid-January. The Dragons got the job done against Zebre in awful condition last week but recognise the need to go up a level or two this evening.
“It’s a big challenge but one that we are looking forward to,” said head coach Darren Edwards.
“We need to show the same belief that we did towards the end of the game against Leinster in Dublin, when we scored three tries against them and should have earned two bonus points.
“There are some tough games in our six fixtures left but we have to see this as a great opportunity.
“And we have won four of our last five, so we must be doing something right.”
Jevon Groves is rewarded for his try-scoring exploits as an emergency lock in Parma with another start in the second row.
Wales Under-20s starlet Jack Dixon replaces Ashley Smith in midfield.
Jonathan Evans is prefered to Wayne Evans at scrum-half while Sam Parry gets the nod at hooker.