Dragons hit by Wardle injury blow

Free Press Series: Ross Wardle (1201061) Ross Wardle (1201061)

NEWPORT Gwent Dragons' top try scorer Ross Wardle is out of the RaboDirect Pro12 run-in after suffering knee ligament damage in the heavy loss to Treviso.

The 22-year-old centre, who is in his first full season as a professional after graduating from Cardiff University, was forced from the field after scoring his seventh try of the campaign at the Stadio Monigo last weekend.

The severity of the injury is not yet clear but Wardle will miss Sunday's clash with the Ospreys at the Millennium Stadium as well as the fixtures against the Scarlets in Llanelli and Treviso at Rodney Parade.

"We are still waiting for results of his scans but we are not very optimistic and the worst case scenario is that he will be out until September," said director of rugby Lyn Jones.

"It's a blow because Ross has had a decent season; he has worked hard, learnt an awful lot and really developed as a professional rugby player. It's sad that he won't be involved for the rest of the season."

With fellow centre Ashley Smith also out of action because of a foot injury it means that exciting Wales Under-20s prospect Tyler Morgan could feature at the end of the campaign as back-up to Jack Dixon and Pat Leach.

The 18-year-old played in the LV= Cup encounters against the Scarlets and London Wasps last autumn and is in the running to make his Pro12 debut as part of the matchday squad at the Millennium Stadium.

If Morgan, who can also play wing, does make the 23 then he will be joined by former Wales hooker Rhys Thomas, who missed the last four fixtures since damaging his hand in the heavy defeat to Ulster at the end of February.

Fijian back row forward Netani Talei is also poised for a return after missing out against Treviso last weekend as the Dragons look for more threat with ball in hand.

The Rodney Parade region have slipped down to 10th in the table – and been overtaken by Cardiff Blues – after picking up just seven points from a possible 40 since the turn of the year.

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