STRONG-RUNNING Dragons centre Jack Dixon will lead the charge for Ebbw Vale in their Principality Premiership Gwent derby with Bargoed tomorrow afternoon.

The 23-year-old from Newbridge has had to be patient since returning from a stinger injury suffered against Zebre in September after Jarryd Sage's impressive form in the 12 jersey.

Dixon will add steel to the Ebbw midfield for the clash at Bargoed Park and he will have regional teammates outside him with Josh Lewis playing at 13 rather than his normal fly-half and twice-capped Wales wing Dafydd Howells on the right flank.

The fifth-placed Steelmen are fresh from a hard-fought 20-8 win against Carmarthen Quins, although the success at Eugene Cross Park cost them the services of talisman flanker Ronnie Kynes.

The captain is out for the rest of the season so Ashley Sweet leads the side with new recruit Lloyd Evans among the replacements.

The Bulls are in the drop zone and the coaches will demand a response after last week's 50-7 hammering at fellow strugglers Swansea.

The hosts are boosted by the return of former Dragons hooker Rhys Buckley but keep changes to a minimum, offered a shot at redemption.

Cross Keys will hope that fly-half Jacob Botica, yet to make an appearance for the Dragons since signing from RGC, can guide them to a much-needed win against Llandovery at Pandy Park.

The 25-year-old is back from a quad injury and heads to Keys as a replacement for Jason Tovey, who will pull the strings for the region against Leinster in Newport.

The hosts benefit from Bedwas' game with Neath being postponed as their XV is bolstered by back row forwards James Sheekey and James Benjamin, who were drafted to the Bridge Field side.

Keys great Leon Andrews returns to the side at full-back, which allows Srdan Majkic and Wes Cunliffe to return to their preferred positions of centre and wing.

The Pandy Park side are currently in the relegation/promotion play-off berth but would climb above Bedwas by beating the eighth-placed Drovers.

Newport are happily away from trouble at the wrong end of the table but are in the middle of a tough streak of fixtures.

They lost at Pontypridd last week, although they could easily have left with a consolation bonus, and travel to Merthyr today then head to Llandovery next week.

The Black and Ambers lost wing Jon Morris to a serious shoulder injury at Sardis Road while influential fly-half Matt O'Brien also misses the trip to the Wern after being forced off.

Newport's task against the champions, and hot favourites to retain their title, is helped by Dragons duo Huw Taylor and Rhys Lawrence, who make debuts at lock and hooker respectively.

Bargoed: C Penny, D Dyer, D Humphries, C Jones, B Nightingale, J Prosser, J Leadbeater, J Lavender, R Buckley, D Suter, L Blacker (captain), G Edmunds, B Fry, G Rogers, A Powell. Replacements: I Burgwin, J Howells, M Billett, W Langley, J Locke, B Morgan, A Gardner-Key, M Kavanagh.

Ebbw Vale: C Meyer, D Howells, J Lewis, J Dixon, T Fricker, Rhys Jones, D Jones, Ross Jones, R Francis, R Sevenoaks, R Clarke, A Sweet (captain), C Regan, L Evans, L Young. Replacements: L Kinsella, L Garrett, C Coleman, K Parker, J Davies, M Flanagan, P King, D Haymond.

Cross Keys: L Andrews, R Budina, S Majkic, D Fidler, W Cunliffe, J Botica, D Babos, G Carpenter, E Shipp, S Evans, D Welch (captain), S Andrews, J Sheekey, J Benjamin, G Price. Replacements: R Jenkins, R Cornock, G Ellis, I Jones, T Lampard, J Thomas, O Leonard, W Kelly.

Newport: E Frewen, A Evans, C Smith, G O'Driscoll, H Lang, H Simons, R Bates, L Smout, R Lawrence, J Williams, H Taylor, D Partridge, M Burgess, J Reid, L Greggains. Replacements: H Palmer, M Prosser, T Piper, J Bartlett, M Reed, C Williams, G Watkin, M McGovern.

Fixtures: Aberavon v RGC 1404, Bargoed v Ebbw Vale, Carmarthen Quins v Pontypridd, Cross Keys v Llandovery, Llanelli v Bridgend, Merthyr v Newport.

l Bedwas director Mark Lewis has left his position at Bridge Field because of work commitments.

The former chairman will remain involved with first-team activities for the rest of the season to help in the transition.