LEINSTER V DRAGONS (Today, KO 6.15)
HEAD coach Darren Edwards has stressed the Dragons are not raising the white flag despite making a host of changes to a winning team for tonight’s clash with European champions Leinster in Dublin .
The Dragons will field the same set of three-quarters that got their RaboDirect Pro12 campaign off to a flyer with a bonus-point win against Zebre last week but five new faces come into the pack.
With a home derby against Cardiff Blues in a week’s time, Wales star Dan Lydiate is not risked after suffering a bruised chest against the Italians, though he could have played if required.
And hooker Steve Jones, who was captain against Zebre, and props Phil Price and Dan Way were not even in the travelling party that arrived in the Irish capital last night.
The Dragons have never won in Dublin but Edwards insists they are not going through the motions while having one eye on the clash with the Blues.
“This is certainly not a B team,” he said. “We have made some changes but they are measured decisions and we will go out there tonight with the belief that we can get the win.
“A lot of these players delivered good performances in pre-season and it is important in a long season that guys don’t feel detached from the squad from game one.
“This is not mission impossible because Leinster ship-ped a lot of points in pre-season and lost heavily (45-20) against the Scarlets last week.
“If we maintain our aggressive defence from last week and are as ruthless in attack then there will be something there for us, I hope the boys realise that and grasp the opportunity.
“We can’t be coy about it; chances like this don’t come around often. Leinster are not at the level they were at towards the end of last season and are coming into this on the back of a bad game.
“It’s not going to be easy because they are back at the RDS and will be fighting for everything but we believe we can cause a shock.”
Nathan Williams, Sam Parry and Nathan Buck come into the front row while lock Adam Jones returns for the injured Andrew Coombs and Hywel Stoddart makes his first regional start as deputy for Lydiate on the blindside.
The coaches have opted to leave Lewis Robling out of their matchday squad in favour of Wales Under-18s full-back Hallam Amos, meaning starting number 15 Dan Evans will cover fly-half.