9:19am Friday 14th February 2014
By Andrew Penman
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons openside Nic Cudd says the Rabo Direct Pro 12 end of season play-offs are still the target ahead of tonight’s huge test away to reigning champions Leinster.
The Dragons are currently seventh, 16 points off the top four with a game in hand, and flanker Cudd admits they need to get their season back on track quickly, starting at the Royal Dublin Society (kick-off 7.45pm).
It will be the Gwent region’s first league encounter since defeat in the derby at Cardiff Blues on New Year’s Day and they have won just once this year – at Italian minnows Mogliano in the Amlin Challenge Cup.
As well as the Blues defeat, the Dragons were humbled by English trio Bath, Northampton and Newcastle in January and last week’s home clash with Edinburgh was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch at Rodney Parade.
“It would have been nice to get that run-out against Edinburgh last week leading up to the Leinster game because it’s going to be a tough game,” said Cudd.
“But in other ways it gives us a good rest, time to get over some niggles and be fresh for this game.
“The play-offs is definitely still a possibility for us but we just want to get as high as we can, starting with this game against Lenister,” he added.
“We’ve had a few bad results lately and we want to get back on track this weekend.
“We’ve had some good results here but there are games where we should have done better.
“There’s still quite a bit of the season left and we want to finish on a high as we can.
“We’re out of the Amlin and the LV so everything is focused now on the league and trying to get that play-off position if possible.”
Conditions will be difficult in Dublin but Cudd is looking forward to facing a Leinster side who will be missing their Irish internationals.
“They’ve got a lot of strength in depth and it’s always a tough game whatever team they put out,” said the 25-year-old.
“We’ve prepared the same way we would if they had all their internationals and I don’t think they’re going to be that much weaker at all.
“Obviously it’s going to be difficult to handle the ball in wet and windy conditions but we’ll have to play as well as we can with ball in hand.
“They get good crowds out there and these are the games we all want to play in.”
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