9:02am Saturday 11th January 2014
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons boss Lyn Jones says his charges face their biggest challenge of the season when they welcome English big guns Bath to Rodney Parade this afternoon, writes Chris Kirwan.
The West Country outfit head over the Severn Bridge looking to secure top spot in Pool Two of the Amlin Challenge Cup.
The Aviva Premiership outfit are chasing silverware on all three fronts and only need to avoid defeat to seal a spot in the last eight of the European tournament.
But the Dragons have enjoyed some fine performances on their own turf this season with Irish big guns Leinster and Munster the only sides to leave with smiles on their faces after narrow, hard-fought victories.
The hosts also triumphed when Bath visited Rodney Parade in pre-season but today promises to be a much, much sterner examination of the improvements made by Jones' side.
"Bath is probably the toughest game that we have played this season but this is what we are in this business for, taking on these challenges and dealing with the pressure of these situations," said the director of rugby, whose side lost 26-10 at the Rec
"My message to the players is to keep on growing as individuals and a team, as they have since September.
"It would take a small miracle for Bath to fail to qualify from this group but it's about setting ourselves up for next season and growing in confidence when up against a top Aviva Premiership side and understanding the standards required to compete against the best."
Bath head into the game on the back of an impressive display at Leicester when they were forced to settle for a draw after a last-gasp Tigers try.
They sit third in the Premiership table, top their groups in both the Amlin and LV= Cups and boast a wealth of talent in their ranks.
"Bath are probably the form team of English rugby," said Jones, who enjoyed a home victory over today's opponents when in charge of London Welsh last season.
"Their coaching staff have recruited well and have organised their game well so we are under no illusions about how difficult this game will be.
"We hope to nullify their power threat and drag them into a game of open rugby."
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