Spirited Dragons looking to be cooler under pressure in Llanelli

Free Press Series: Andrew Coombs
 (1201030) Andrew Coombs (1201030)

NEWPORT Gwent Dragons director of rugby Lyn Jones is looking his charges to marry their spirit with accuracy when they take on the Scarlets this evening (kick-off 7.05pm).

The region produced a sterling defensive display in their 20-10 defeat to the Ospreys at the Millennium Stadium a fortnight ago but lacked composure with ball in hand.

The boss believes the Dragons can ill afford to be as wasteful in Llanelli if they are to turn things around after slumping to 10th in the RaboDirect Pro12 because of a run of one win in nine.

"Against the Ospreys we had some of the qualities back that gave us an elevated position in the league, playing with a huge amount of spirit and desire" said Jones.

"But we didn't play very accurately; they harassed us and forced us into unforced errors. The team talk for the Scarlets will be to play with pride and passion but also accuracy so that we can sustain pressure and score points."

While the Dragons need to win to keep alive their slim hopes of overhauling Cardiff Blues, who take on Connacht in Galway tomorrow, the Scarlets want to secure qualification for Europe's premier tournament.

The sixth-placed side need just two points to be mixing it with Toulon, Clermont, Leicester and Saracens in the Rugby Champions Cup.

"There are the top five sides who are a distance away from everyone else in the Pro12," said Jones. "The Scarlets are deservedly sixth and then we've got a whole group of clubs scrambling around that are all about the same standard.

"They will qualify for Europe next year and they have been quite consistent at home. I am sure they will come back strongly after struggling against the Blues (losing 17-13) and it's up to us to give a fiery response to losing to the Ospreys."

Jones makes four changes to the XV that lost to the Ospreys with lock Andrew Coombs and centre Pat Leach returning after illness forced them to pull out of the Millennium Stadium clash.

Openside Nic Cudd starts after starring as a replacement for Netani Talei when the Fijian back row forward injured his right ankle in the first quarter while Bruce Douglas goes up against his old side at tighthead.

Rob McCusker returns from injury at number eight for the Scarlets with Josh Turnbull returning to blindside flanker and Scotland's John Barclay slugging it out with Cudd at the breakdown.

Steve Shingler replaces Wales full-back Liam Williams, who is banned after being sent off at the Millennium Stadium, while ex-England international Olly Barkley slots in at inside centre.

Scarlets: S Shingler, K Phillips, J Davies (captain), O Barkley, J Williams, R Priestland, G Davies, P John, K Owens, S Lee, J Ball, G Earle, J Turnbull, J Barclay, R McCusker. Replacements: K Myhill, R Evans, R Jones, J Snyman, A Shingler, R Williams, G Maule, F Climo.

Dragons: H Amos, T Prydie, P Leach, J Dixon, W Harries, K Burton, R Rees, P Price, R Thomas, B Douglas, A Coombs (captain), M Screech, L Evans, N Cudd, T Faletau. Replacements: S Parry, O Evans, D Bell, J Groves, D Waters, J Evans, J Tovey.

Referee: Leighton Hodges (Bridgend)

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