NEWPORT Gwent Dragons have been urged to tear into Cardiff Blues from the first whistle in Saturday’s first derby of the season.
Victory against their nearest rivals can be a launching pad for the Dragons in their bid for Heineken Cup qualification while defeat would be a real body blow.
They won their RaboDirect Pro12 opener against Zebre but head into the derby on the back of a 45-25 defeat to European champions Leinster in which late errors scuppered their hopes of a pair of bonus points.
This week the Dragons have been fuelled by the frustration of that second-half comeback falling short.
Head coach Darren Edwards has demanded that they start on the front foot this weekend, carrying hard and flying into their rivals from the capital at the breakdown.
He said: “We stood back rather than imposing ourselves on Leinster, we looked dangerous and threatening once we did that and concentrated on ourselves.
“But I don’t think there is any chance of us standing back against the Blues and this is just what we need early in the season. I know that we should say that every game is important but there is something special about playing against the Blues and the week starts with a lot more excitement.
"The players have been excellent in recent weeks but the extra spice of a derby will give us the tough mindset that we need on Saturday.”
The back row battle in which Wales stars Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau will attempt to get the better of their international skipper Sam Warburton.
But the tight five tussle will be just as important with the Dragons – who have often been the ones under the pump – looking to put the squeeze on their rivals, who have struggled in the set piece in their first two fixtures.
“The scrum is the first marker you put down and we have challenged our players,” said Edwards. “We have to target them up front and if we can do that it would be a huge turnaround for us.”