12:14pm Friday 7th February 2014
By Chris Kirwan
NIC Cudd gets the nod for Newport Gwent Dragons at openside flanker against Edinburgh on Sunday after his reprieve from a red card.
The 25-year-old was sent off in last Friday’s LV= Cup defeat to Newcastle but was exonerated at a disciplinary meeting this week.
Cudd was part of a two-man tackle on the Falcons’ Adam Powell but it was full-back Dan Evans that sent the back row forward headfirst into the turf.
He has been banned for five weeks so Hallam Amos moves from wing to full-back for the crunch RaboDirect Pro12 clash at Rodney Parade (kick-off 1.05pm).
Director of rugby Lyn Jones brings back his first-choice players after giving fringe members of his squad a chance in the north east of England.
Half-backs Richie Rees and Jason Tovey will have a key role to play in controlling the game in challenging conditions while outside centre Pat Leach will have responsibility for shoring up a defence that has been a touch leaky in January.
Bath, Northampton and Newcastle all overpowered the Dragons and scored a combined total of 13 tries.
Hooker Rhys Thomas, lock Rob Sidoli (who captains the side in the absence of Wales forward Andrew Coombs) and number eight Netani Talei ensure there is an experienced spine to the pack.
Edinburgh are without six Scotland players that are on Calcutta Cup duty as well as injured internationals Tim Visser and Greig Tonks.
They still, however, field a back line containing five Scottish internationals and pack of seasoned forwards from overseas.
New Zealander Mike Coman captains the visitors from the back row in his first start for the club.
Dragons: H Amos, M Pewtner, P Leach, A Smith, W Harries, J Tovey, R Rees, O Evans, R Thomas, D Way, C Hill, R Sidoli (captain), L Evans, N Cudd, N Talei. Replacements: S Parry, A Coundley, N Buck, M Screech, J Groves, W Evans, S Jones, R Wardle.
Edinburgh: J Cuthbert, D Fife, N De Luca, A Strauss, T Brown, C Bezuidenhout, G Hart, W Blaauw, J Hilterbrand, W Nel, G Gilchrist, I van der Westhuizen, M Coman (captain), R Grant, C Du Preez. Replacements: G Turner, A Allan, E McQuillin, O Atkins, T Leonardi, S Hidalgo-Clyne, S Beard, H Leonard.
Referee: Allain Rolland (Ireland)
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