NEWPORT Gwent Dragons boss Lyn Jones has called on his charges to show that they have made progress this season by impressing against the standard bearers for Welsh rugby, writes Chris Kirwan.
The Dragons take on the Ospreys in the second game of the Judgement Day double-header at the Millennium Stadium on Easter Sunday.
It’s a clash between two regions that have traditionally frequented opposite ends of the Celtic League table.
The Dragons have been the worst ranked of the Welsh quartet in seven out of 10 seasons while the Ospreys have been Wales’ best six times, tallies that look set to increase in the coming weeks.
Small progress has been made at Rodney Parade this season but that is in danger of being lost amid a shocking run of form.
The Dragons have slipped to 10th in the table after taking just seven points out of a possible 40 with their sole victory in eight games since the turn of the year coming against title hopefuls Glasgow.
The slide down the Pro12 has coincided with changes being made ahead of next season – seven new signings have been made and many more players will be heading for the exit door – but Jones hopes his side can rally against the playoff-chasing Ospreys.
“Things have slipped off, big time,” admitted the director of rugby. “But this is a great opportunity to get back to the standards of the start of the season and to demonstrate how good we can be.
“The Ospreys have a lot of very good players and it’s down to the players to respond against the best Welsh region.
“There is so much good about our game but we gifted Treviso 45 points last weekend and there is a culture here that when you go behind that’s it.
“We have been working hard all season to change that but have slipped back into having negative thoughts recently and that’s not good enough.
“We need to change the way that people go about their business.”
Jones won two Celtic League titles and the Anglo-Welsh Cup when at the Ospreys helm between 2003 and 2008. He aspires to bring similar success to Rodney Parade in time.
“They have been the best Welsh region for several seasons and are the yardstick for us, although they are perhaps six of seven years ahead of the Dragons in terms of getting the playing culture and pathways right from top to bottom,” said Jones.