9:32am Friday 11th April 2014
MATTHEW Screech has already exceeded his expectations this season and hopes to help Newport Gwent Dragons do likewise by finishing the RaboDirect Pro12 in style.
The 21-year-old lock has made 25 appearances for the Rodney Parade region, not bad considering he was without a contract after being released by Cardiff Blues last summer.
When Screech penned a Dragons deal he was behind captain Andrew Coombs, Robert Sidoli, Adam Jones and Ian Nimmo in the pecking order.
Yet nobody has turned out for the region more this season than the former Wales Under-20s second row from Tonyrefail.
"I have exceeded a lot of my expectations," said Screech. "I've been lucky enough to be involved in pretty much every game and I've loved it.
"I've had ups and downs but on the whole it has been a pretty good season considering at the start of the year I didn't have a Dragons contract, I was just had a deal with Bedwas and the chance to train with the Dragons.
"For Lyn (Jones, director of rugby) to want to sign me for three years on a professional contract and to be involved in a lot of games, I'm over the moon."
The Dragons made a super start to the season but have endured a shocking 2014, winning just one of seven games and slipping to ninth in the table. If they cannot halt the slide then it is possible that they could endure a repeat of last season's 11th-place finish.
Screech, who is set to start tomorrow's Pro12 clash with Treviso at the Stadio Monigo, insists that progress has still been made despite the recent troubles.
"Lyn has wanted to put a lot of groundwork in and I think that the Dragons have improved since he has come in," said Screech. "With a couple more experienced players next year hopefully we will push to be one of the top two Welsh regions.
"We've dipped into the lower end of the table but we've got four games left and a couple of wins will push us back up.
"I expect Treviso will be forward-orientated but we have taken some big steps forward as a pack since (being dominated up front by) Connacht. We will look to keep improving in Italy and get one up on them."
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