DRAGONS v NORTHAMPTON (Sunday, KO 3.15)
NORTHAMPTON are poised to wheel out their big guns in the LV= Cup clash at Rodney Parade on Sunday while Newport Gwent Dragons’ selection will be shaped by a future challenge.
The Dragons – who will set a regional record of seven losses on the spin if they are downed – are understandably focused on their must-win RaboDirect Pro12 encounter with Connacht just five days after their date with the Saints.
Captain Lewis Evans is back from the head injury he suffered in defeat to Glasgow but whether he and his fellow first choice players are risked is another matter.
The Dragons name their squad this afternoon and it is likely that they will stick largely to the squad that lost at Bath last Saturday, although bright prospect Hallam Amos is out after suffering an ankle injury at the Rec.
Meanwhile, Northampton are able to call on an England contingent as they bid to end a run of four defeats ahead of their return to Aviva Premiership action.
The Saints, who take on London Welsh next Saturday, will be boosted by the the England trio of lock Courtney Lawes, flanker Phil Dowson and scrum-half Lee Dickson.
They are not needed by their country for the clash against Australia and Northampton will hope their experience will count.
Last weekend they were edged out 31-30 when Harlequins crossed for a converted try at the death.
“We are going through a bit of a down period and need to get back to winning ways,” admitted head coach Jim Mallinder.
The last time the teams met was at Franklin’s Gardens in 2010 when the hosts ran out 28-3 winners and gave the Dragons a torrid time up front after selecting their first-choice propping pair of Soane Tonga’uiha and Brian Mujati.
l Mike Poole is poised for a return with one of the Gwent Premiership teams this weekend. The wing has been out of action since injuring his left knee when playing for Bedwas on the opening day of the season.