DRAGONS v EDINBURGH (Tonight, KO 7pm)
SKIPPER Lewis Evans says victory is “non-negotiable” tonight as Newport Gwent Dragons try to stop the rot against Edinburgh at Rodney Parade.
The Dragons have failed to add to the five points earned on opening night against Zebre and have dropped to 10th in the RaboDirect Pro12 table.
Last time they played on their own patch they produced a woeful performance in defeat to Cardiff Blues that sapped the morale and hope from their supporters.
Combined with fruitless trips to Leinster and Munster, it means they have no margin for error tonight if they are to harbour hopes of qualifying for next season’s Heineken Cup.
There is reason for cautious optimism courtesy of their record against Edinburgh, who have not won at Rodney Parade since 2006.
But the heat is on because failure to continue that winning streak would leave the hosts’ season in tatters before September is out.
“A win is non-negotiable, simple as that,” said Evans, who returns at openside flanker after being benched for last weekend’s loss to Munster.
“The Blues game was essential and we didn’t perform as well as we wanted to. It led to questions being asked of individuals and it is a case of manning up or being found out.
“This is a massive opportunity to rectify previous errors and we need to get back on track and build some momentum.
“Do the basics right and hopefully the game plan will work and we will come away with a good performance and, more importantly, the win.”
The heat is on for the Dragons to get the win and the captain is also under pressure to produce a performance that keeps the number 7 jersey.
He comes back in for Jevon Groves, who is on the bench despite a mightily impressive display at Thomond Park last week.
“When they announced the squad I didn’t know whether I would be starting,” said Evans.
“Jevon has performed admirably, just as Darren Waters did before he unluckily got injured.
“Nic Cudd has come in as well and just from training you can see what his qualities are so I can’t rest on my laurels.
“The whole squad is under pressure and one or two bad performances will lead to the chop.”