2:16pm Friday 29th November 2013
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons will be looking for openside Nic Cudd to provide breakdown masters Munster with a few of their own contact area conundrums this evening.
After a stunning 23-8 away win against title hopefuls Glasgow, Lyn Jones has named an unchanged matchday squad for the visit of the RaboDirect Pro12 leaders (kick-off 7.15pm).
That means that Cudd will slot into the back row alongside blindside Lewis Evans and number eight Netani Talei.
The 25-year-old has endured a frustrating season after injuring his shoulder in the opening exchanges of the round two defeat in Edinburgh.
He has been limited to just four appearances, suffering a recurrence of the problem on his comeback against Mogliano in October, but made a timely return at Scotstoun Stadium last Friday, forming an impressive partnership with Evans and Talei.
Cudd is an out-and-out seven who relishes getting over the ball. That will be an invaluable asset against a Munster side that make a habit of frustrating their opponents with their breakdown habits.
"Nic made a big difference in Glasgow," said Jones. "It is important to have a tradesman in the openside position.
"He positioned himself superbly throughout last weekend's game and that allowed other players to do their jobs effectively.
"The units worked well and that will be vital against a Munster side that play right on the edge at the breakdown.
"It was disappointing that we didn't score a try when we played them in Cork (in September's 23-9 loss) but they were all over the ball and make it difficult to have an open game of rugby."
The Dragons are in buoyant mood after stunning Glasgow on their own turf but tonight's visitors are in pretty impressive form themselves.
They have won their last five Pro12 games and demolished Cardiff Blues 31-10 in the capital last Saturday, bagging a bonus point just two minutes into the second half.
The bookies have Munster as favourites for this evening's contest but scrum-half Richie Rees says the Dragons are determined to upset the odds again and back up their Scotstoun success.
"We enjoyed the win against Glasgow but heads quickly switched back on and thoughts turned to the next game," said the scrum-half.
"That's the way that the league is and things don't get any easier with Munster coming to Rodney Parade.
"They may not be the side that they were a few years ago (when winning the Heineken Cup in 2006 and 2008) but they still have so much quality in their side.
"Munster are going well and put the Blues to the sword but we are building something here and if we want to keep progressing then we have to beat these sorts of sides when we are at home."
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