9:46am Friday 28th February 2014
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons know that they will have to be at their meanest tonight as they bid to do the double over another RaboDirect Pro12 title hopeful.
The region face a daunting task when they head to Ravenhill to take on an Ulster side that have lost just once on their own patch in the last 12 months.
But the Dragons can take spirit from both a win when the sides met at Rodney Parade in September and a terrific result last weekend when they turned over fifth-placed Glasgow for the second time this season.
Those successes were down to spirited defensive displays and back row forward Lewis Evans is calling for a repeat of their miserly opening day performance.
They limited the Ulstermen to eight points – only Leinster shipped fewer against the Belfast outfit this term – and then triumphed thanks to five Jason Tovey kicks.
"Our defence spoke volumes about us that game," said the 26-year-old. "We dug in and managed to kick the points when we needed them.
"It was the same spirit against Glasgow when everyone helped pull the win out the bag when we went 20-10 down. That showed the character of the team and we have really responded throughout the season.
"We will need our defence to stay watertight in Ulster. Lyn (Jones, director of rugby) hasn't reinvented the wheel, he has just tightened up our defence by putting more secure systems in place and making sure everyone is accountable for their roles."
The Dragons have suffered hammerings in Belfast for the last two seasons but prior to that had a pretty good record at Ravenhill.
They triumphed 16-14 in 2008/9, drew 22-22 in 2009/10 and suffered last-gasp heartbreak when beaten 25-23 thanks to South African ace Ruan Pienaar's drop goal in 2010/11.
Ulster are without Ireland stars Rory Best, Andrew Trimble and Chris Henry as well as overseas imports John Afoa and Nick Williams but remain a fearsome outfit.
"They will without a few Irish internationals but still have world class players in their side," said Evans.
"Ravenhill is a formidable place to go but we have put them under pressure in the past. We will go there with a positive attitude to play and to challenge one of the top teams in Europe."
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