Dragons big guns back for Treviso test
AFTER sending out the young guns to enjoy themselves in the LV= Cup, Newport Gwent Dragons are preparing to be more pragmatic in the RaboDirect Pro12.
The Rodney Parade region head into Friday’s home league clash with Treviso on the back of morale-boosting cup victories against the Ospreys and London Welsh.
But the Pro12 promises to be a tougher proposition against Italian opponents who will head to Newport with a strong driving lineout and power game.
Captain Lewis Evans, pictured, will return to the back row after being rested against Welsh on Sunday along with a number of other regular starters.
With Treviso followed by Glasgow (home), Zebre (away) and Leinster (home), the one-from-bottom Dragons have an opportunity to build up a head of steam and finish a disappointing season strongly.
“We’ve got some key players to come back for what will be a tough month and a crucial one with three of four games at home,” said head coach Darren Edwards.
“It was important that we finished against London Welsh with confidence and momentum for Treviso.
“It has been a tough season but we are in a winning groove at the moment and need to stay in it and enjoy the final stretch.”
The Wales Under-20s trio of Hallam Amos, centre Jack Dixon and number eight Ieuan Jones have impressed with the Dragons over the past fortnight and their national coach Danny Wilson will release them if they are guaranteed substantial game time.
That is likely to be the case for Dixon and Jones but Amos may miss out because of the return of Dan Evans.
However, the Monmouth School pupil made an impression in a staggering final quarter at the Kassam Stadium on Sunday, scoring the first try as the Dragons came from 14-9 down after an hour of the match to finally win 42-14.
“I was pleased to see the players go out there in the second half and enjoy themselves,” said Edwards.
“We’ve got some really talented individuals and you just want them to play attacking rugby and showcase their talent.
“It was a pretty boring game in the first half and what’s the point in playing rugby like that?
“I’m glad they responded to the message of going out there to play in the second half, they are young guys and if you don’t give them the freedom then it’s pointless putting them out there.”
The young talent left an impression on London Welsh boss Lyn Jones, who spent a couple of months as attack coach at Rodney Parade in 2009.
He said: “The Dragons have some excellent youngsters coming through – 15 (Amos) has got international status written all over him... when he leaves school!
“The have given opportunities and I am sure Darren will be delighted with the efforts of his young players.
“It is a team that has determination, good attitude and the desire to play for the badge.
“The LV= Cup games are great to have a look to the future and and I am sure if Gwent is patient then they have something to build on there.”
Openside Darren Waters enjoyed a 50-minute return to the fold following six months on the sidelines after rupturing knee ligaments.
However, he is set to continue the comeback trail in the Premiership rather than Pro12 with Nic Cudd likely to wear seven in the back row with captain Lewis Evans and number eight Jones.