8:45am Tuesday 22nd April 2014
FLANKER Lewis Evans believes Newport Gwent Dragons got their pride back at the Millennium Stadium and has demanded that they reproduce the same never-say-die attitude to finish their season in style.
The 26-year-old led from the front while deputising for injured captain Andrew Coombs against the Ospreys at Judgement Day, producing a superb defensive display that did his chances of a Wales squad no harm at all.
The Dragons were under the pump throughout; they made 153 tackles to the Ospreys' 74 and were forced to scramble inside their 22 on 15 occasions.
Their desperate defence and some rank attacking play by their playoff-chasing opponents meant that the region avoiding the thumping that many feared.
Nonetheless, a late penalty try meant the Dragons left the capital with nothing but bruises and they have mustered just 7 points from a possible 45 in 2014.
Evans has demanded that they raise themselves for a last push against the Scarlets in Llanelli a week on Friday before ending their campaign against Treviso at Rodney Parade the following Saturday.
"The Ospreys threw everything bar the kitchen sink at us and we managed to ride it out," said Evans. "The boys dug deep and it was a shame that we didn't at least have a bonus point to show for it.
"They are a quality side but we stood up to them and were right in it until the final few minutes so can take a lot from that display.
"We need to show that same hunger and desire at the Scarlets and then against Treviso because we have the chance to end the season on a positive note.
"It's never easy at the Scarlets, and they will be fired up after losing to the Blues, but it's a challenge that we can look forward to after showing so much good against the Ospreys.
"There's no doubt that we've had some disappointments recently, slipping up against Connacht and Edinburgh (24-8 and 23-19 defeats respectively at Rodney Parade), but we still have the chance to climb the league and show that we have made progress."
Uncapped Evans must surely be in the mix to tour South Africa with Wales this summer given that Sam Warburton is out with a shoulder injury and Justin Tipuric is likely to go under the knife to sort out his own shoulder problem.
But the back row forward was reluctant to talk about his sterling performance on his first appearance at the Millennium Stadium, preferring to talk about the display of his fellow flanker Nic Cudd.
"It was a big blow to lose Netani Talei (with a leg injury) because of his ball carrying but Cuddy came on and is an absolute warrior," said Evans.
"He may be small but he punches above his weight and when it comes to jackaling there is nobody better."
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