JONATHAN Evans’ run of starts in the number 9 jersey for Newport Gwent Dragons is set to continue for the next month – and he is being backed to keep shining by his half-back partner.
Evans, 20, has started every game for the Dragons this season after being handed an opportunity courtesy of injuries to his more experienced rivals.
He has grasped the chance with both hands and will get the chance to continue his development against the Scarlets on Friday and on the European stage when the Amlin Challenge Cup takes over for a fortnight.
That is because Wayne Evans continues to be troubled by a back problem, while Joe Bedford is still not fit following summer shoulder surgery. The former is expected to be out for at least three weeks and the latter for six.
However, Steffan Jones believes the form of the junior scrum-half has cushioned the blow of losing the experienced pair.
“Jon has really stepped up to the mark and is doing really well,” said 21-year-old Jones, who played with Evans for Bargoed Youth.
“Playing with him when we were younger helped a bit, we still have our little arguments but he does that with everyone!
“He just needed a run of games, as I suppose everyone does, and now he is showing what he can do.
“Jon does the basics well and knows that if he does that then the gaps will open up for him.”
Bedwas scrum-half Liam Davies will continue to back up Evans in the absence of the experienced 9s but there is better injury news concerning lock Rob Sidoli, last season’s Argus Dragon of the Year, who could feature against the Scarlets on Friday.
The 33-year-old has not played this term after suffering a calf injury in a pre-season fixture against Biarritz.
Winger Tonderai Chavhanga, who underwent summer knee surgery, could return the following week in the encounter at Wasps in the Amlin Challenge Cup.
But first the Dragons want to finish the first block of Pro12 fixtures strongly on their trip west to Llanelli following last week’s 32-12 victory against Edinburgh in which Tom Prydie kicked six penalties and Jones booted three drop goals.
“I would have loved to have played brilliant, flowing rugby but sometimes it’s just about winning and that’s exactly what we did against a good side,” said head coach Darren Edwards.
“The two players steered us home with their kicking and the maturity that we showed to close out the game is something that we have worked hard to develop.
“We put the pressure on ourselves because of our performance against Cardiff Blues (a 16-5 home loss) and we needed to respond by winning against Edinburgh by whatever means.
“There is a lot more to come from this team but it’s pleasing that we won a game through kicks and we have also scored 10 tries already this season.
“Put those two elements together and we will be a threatening team.”