12:41pm Wednesday 15th January 2014
By Chris Kirwan
CAPTAIN Andrew Coombs returns to the back row for Newport Gwent Dragons’ Amlin Challenge Cup clash at Mogliano tomorrow evening.
The six-times capped Wales forward has been named at blindside flanker rather than in the second row for the encounter in northern Italy.
The 29-year-old earned a regional shot after impressing in Newport’s back row in the Premiership and only moved to lock to cover injuries.
He has not played with 6 on his back since taking on the Scarlets in November of 2011 but will move forward for the dead rubber at the Stadio Maurizio Quaggia.
Steffan Jones gets the nod to replace the injured Jason Tovey at fly-half and his half-back partner is Jonathan Evans.
Other changes to the XV that lost to Bath 30-13 at Rodney Parade last weekend see recalls for wing Will Harries, centre Pat Leach, prop Aaron Coundley, hooker Sam Parry, lock Matthew Screech, flanker Scott Matthews and number eight Ieuan Jones.
Talented openside Matthews, who has impressed with Cross Keys and is set to feature for Wales in the Under-20s Six Nations, makes his European debut and second Dragons start.
The trip to Mogliano is no longer a venture into the unknown as it is the second season on the spin that the Dragons have been drawn against the minnows from northern Italy.
The region has enjoyed three bonus point victories and the aggregate score is 136-11. It was 33-0 at the Stadio Maurizio Quaggia last season despite boggy conditions and a red card for flanker Jevon Groves after just half an hour.
“Last year we didn’t know what to expect and now we know them pretty well,” said head coach Darren Edwards.
“But preparation is difficult for these games because through analysing professional sides you see patterns emerging that you can capitalise on.
“Mogliano are a free-spirited team so it’s important that we concentrate on our own game because we were off it against Bath last weekend and need to get back into the groove.
“A number of players have been given an opportunity and need to play well, so it’s a meaningful fixture for us even though we can’t qualify from the group.”
Bath have already secured Pool Two top spot and a berth in the last eight but a bonus point win in Mogliano and a pointless trip to the Rec for Bordeaux-Begles would see the Dragons claim second place.
Mogliano: A Onori, E Ceccato, T Boni, F Guarducci, E Padovani, A Lucchese, D Appiah, A Costa Repetto, M Ravalle, E Pananello, M Lazzaroni, A Ceccato, E Candiago (captain), T Halvorsen. Replacements: O Gega, A Ceglie, S Ferrari, F Maso, A Trotta, E Endrizzi, E Bacchin, E Galon.
Dragons: D Evans, W Harries, P Leach, R Wardle, M Pewtner, S Jones, J Evans, A Coundley, S Parry, N Buck, M Screech, R Sidoli, A Coombs (captain), S Matthews, I Jones. Replacements: H Gustafson, P Price, D Way, A Jones, J Groves, W Evans, K Burton, A Hughes
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
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