TENACIOUS flanker Scott Matthews hopes to make another pre-season impression when Newport Gwent Dragons host the English champions in Ebbw Vale tomorrow evening, writes Chris Kirwan.
The 20-year-old from New Tredegar, who was a key figure for Wales at the Junior World Championship this summer, caught the eye in the region's friendlies against Bristol and Lydney.
The combative openside crossed for a brace against the latter but the Dragons' preparations for the Guinness Pro12 campaign go up several notches when they take on Northampton at Eugene Cross Park.
Director of rugby Lyn Jones is set to name a large squad to take on the Saints and Matthews would love to test himself against the Aviva Premiership champions.
"My goal is to get into the team and to push the likes of Lewis Evans and Nic Cudd," said Matthews. "If I am going to do that then I need to take my chances s when they come.
"It's been great learning off Lewis and Nic so far this pre-season, grabbing them after sessions and picking up tips that will help to make me a better player.
"Now I want to show what I have been learning on the pitch and I want to play, whether with the Dragons or Cross Keys."
Both Matthews and fellow Wales Under-20s openside Ollie Griffiths caught the eye against Lydney at Regentsholme.
It was hard to judge their exploits given that they were up against opposition from English National League Two South but the flanker insists that the squad, which largely comprised of 20-and-unders, benefited greatly.
"We knew that it would be a tough game against a side that wanted to impress against professionals," said Matthews.
"It was great because you can do all the running you want but there is nothing like having a game.
"They had nothing to lose and flew into us, giving it everything, and that was just what we needed."