NEWPORT Gwent Dragons head coach Darren Edwards is urging his players to improve their discipline, believing it could be key in overcoming Cardiff Blues on Boxing Day (kick-off 5pm).
The Dragons look to bounce back after two successive away defeats by getting one over their fiercest rivals in this week’s eagerly anticipated Christmas derby.
If Edwards’ men are to topple the Blues, they will have to work hard to improve their discipline, facing them at Rodney Parade on Thursday and then again away on New Year’s Day.
During Saturday’s 14-11 last gasp defeat in Connacht loosehead prop Owen Evans was yellow carded while they lost three men to the sin bin in their heavy 32-13 setback at Bordeaux-Bègles the week before.
In Galway on the weekend they gave away 13 penalties while they were punished 18 times at the Stade André Moga in their Amlin Challenge Cup loss.
“Discipline will be crucial against the Blues because it’s the small margins that are so important,” Edwards said.
“We had a tough time in France. We were really disappointed with our accuracy and the amount of penalties we conceded and the yellow cards meant we had no chance.”
The Blues did the double over the Dragons last season, winning 16-5 at Rodney Parade in September before shading them 12-10 in atrocious conditions at Cardiff Arms Park last Boxing Day.
The last time the Gwent region beat the capital city based region was an 18-14 triumph in March 2012 at Rodney Parade.
Edwards’ side will also be desperate to put some distance between them, who are eighth in the league on 20 points, and the Blues, one place below them in ninth with 17 points.
Victory could also see them climb into the top half of the RaboDirect PRO12 and become the second placed Welsh side by leapfrogging the Scarlets who entertain the Ospreys on Boxing Day.
Edwards said he can’t wait for Boxing Day to come: “These back-to-back games are so exciting and I can’t even get tickets for some of my family because the game at Rodney Parade is a sell-out.
“The whole place has come to life and it has been great for us from a commercial point of view and we will be looking to put on a big show.”
Blues director of rugby Phil Davies said he was also looking forward to taking on the Dragons at Rodney Parade as his men look to get over their 22-19 defeat to the Ospreys at Cardiff Arms Park in the first Welsh Christmas derby.
“The atmosphere will be white hot and it’s not difficult to get the players up for these games because of the rivalry and history behind the sides,” he said.
“No quarter will be asked or given in these two games. Derbies represent old rivalries that go back years, back to when I played a long time ago.”