9:07am Tuesday 28th January 2014
OPPORTUNITY knocks for another batch of Newport Gwent Dragons players in Newcastle on Friday after their rivals for starts fluffed their lines, writes Chris Kirwan.
Director of rugby Lyn Jones is poised to ring the changes for the LV= Cup clash against the Falcons at Kingston Park (kick-off 7.45pm).
That was the plan even before the Rodney Parade region was stuffed 34-16 on their own patch by Northampton last weekend when the Saints outscored their hosts five tries to one.
The management team were keen to have a close look at all fit members of their squad over the fixtures against Mogliano, Northampton and Newcastle.
And after a hugely disappointing performance against the Saints, those that take to the field in the North East of England have a golden chance to earn a spot when the RaboDirect Pro12 returns with a home game against Edinburgh on February 9.
It may be a dead rubber on Friday but there is plenty up for grabs according to flanker Lewis Evans, who was captain against Northampton.
"It's an important game and we are focused on going back into the Rabo in good form," said the 26-year-old.
"I think Lyn had two teams planned for the LV= Cup, he will be giving other boys a go and there are certain positions where he doesn't know who is strongest.
"It is a trial double-header and some fronted up against Northampton and others didn't. The ball is in Lyn's court and those that play against Newcastle have a good opportunity to impress."
The Dragons are eyeing a win to ensure they take on Edinburgh with a spring in their step but the Falcons are also eyeing a morale-booster ahead of their battle to avoid the drop from the Aviva Premiership.
"Newcastle are no mugs and it will be a real challenge up there," said Evans. "They will want to take some form into the Aviva Premiership.
"They will come out all guns blazing on their own patch so we have got to put in a solid performance and tighten up our set piece, because at the moment it is very ropy."
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