Dragons linchpin Pat Leach ruled out of Scarlets clash
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons will be without midfield linchpin Pat Leach against the Scarlets on Friday (kick-off 7.15pm) while captain Andrew Coombs and flanker Nic Cudd are rated as 50/50 for the RaboDirect Pro12 encounter.
Outside centre Leach has formed a good partnership with Wales Under-20s young gun Jack Dixon and has been at the heart of the Dragons' excellent defensive start to the campaign.
However, the 28-year-old suffered an elbow injury in the 16-13 loss to Edinburgh at Murrayfield last Friday and is expected to be out for two to three weeks.
Ross Wardle is expected to get the nod to replace him at Rodney Parade this weekend, resuming a partnership with Dixon that started with Bedwas in the Premiership.
Director of rugby Lyn Jones admits that Leach will be missed against the Scarlets.
"Pat has had a good start to the season," he said. "It's disappointing that he's injured because he has made a real impression on me.
"He reminds of (former Ospreys and Dragons centre) David Bishop; he is a big lad, very industrious, gets on with his job with a low error count and is very efficient and effective in what he does."
The Dragons will make calls on the fitness of lock Coombs and flanker Cudd on Thursday.
Coombs suffered an ankle injury in the opening weekend win against Ulster and missed the trip to Murrayfield.
Cudd, who signed from the Scarlets last season, was forced from the field in Scotland after suffering a blow to his right shoulder in the opening exchanges.
Wing Tom Prydie is back in the Dragons' squad after missing the Edinburgh game with an ankle injury sustained against Ulster while centre Ashley Smith is included for the first time this season after overcoming a minor back problem.
Dragons squad: D Evans, M Pewtner, W Harries, R Wardle, T Prydie, H Amos, A Hughes, A Smith, J Dixon, K Burton, J Tovey, R Rees, J Evans, O Evans, P Price, A Coundley, N Williams, R Thomas, H Gustafson, S Parry, D Way, N Buck, F Chaparro, M Screech, A Jones, R Sidoli, I Nimmo, A Coombs, J Groves, N Talei, L Evans, N Cudd, T Faletau, I Jones.
- The Scarlets will be without prop Deacon Manu after he broke a bone in his arm against Treviso last Saturday. The Fijian, who was close to joining the Dragons in the summer of 2012, is set to be out for three months.
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