DRAGONS v EDINBURGH (Friday, KO 7pm)
NUMBER eight Tom Brown believes Newport Gwent Dragons must show a real appetite for huge collisions when they play a crucial encounter against a side being lauded for their steel.
The Dragons went down to a 33-13 defeat to Munster in Limerick just hours after Edinburgh had earned a losing bonus point 125 miles away to the north east against Leinster in Dublin.
The Scottish side’s performance in a 22-16 loss earned praise from the European champions’ head coach Joe Schmidt.
“They’ve got more steel than they had last year,” he told The Scotsman. “They’re a very tough team to break down.”
That new-found ruggedness has coincided with the arrival of Neil Back, a World Cup winner with England in 2003, as forwards coach.
They sit sixth in the Pro12, four points back on the table-topping Scarlets, and have already beaten Cardiff Blues on their own patch this season.
But the Dragons cannot afford another defeat after failing to add to the five points they earned against whipping boys Zebre in their three fixtures since opening night.
With the inept performance against Cardiff Blues still fresh in the minds of the Rodney Parade faithful, Brown believes a direct, aggressive app-roach – something they produced in defeat at Thomond Park – is necessary.
“All the boys really enjoyed the confrontation against Munster, they tried to bully us but I feel that we stood up to them physically,” said the number eight.
“We need to move on after the Blues game, we have to make home a fortress, to be relentless.
“I think we showed good spirit at Munster when we came right back into the game in the final quarter and even when the game was gone we kept plugging away at the end.
“We showed heart and need to show more against Edinburgh.”
Brown produced a sterling performance on his first start of the season, leading the way with ball in hand. It was a display that gave a timely nudge to the coaching staff that he deserves more time on the field, and not just when Toby Faletau is on Wales duty.
Brown said: “I got a lot of ball and would like more on Friday – getting the ball in my hands and running at people is what I love.
“It felt really good out there and hopefully I took my chance. My fitness was there and my work rate was there, so hopefully that will mean more opportunities come my way.”