DRAGONS v BAYONNE (Saturday, KO 8.10)
JEVON Groves believes Newport Gwent Dragons need to smarten up if they are to keep their Euro-pean hopes alive against Bayonne on Saturday.
The Dragons failed to get off the mark in Pool Three of the Amlin Challenge Cup after a 38-25 defeat to Wasps that was more convincing than the scoreline suggests.
The Rodney Parade region need to earn at least four points against Bayonne this weekend if they are to stand a chance of making it into the last eight.
The Dragons’ most memorable victory of last season came against Perpignan but an improvement in discipline is required if they are to stand any chance of claiming another French scalp.
They headed into the break 25-15 down in High Wycombe only to shoot themselves in the foot at the resumption by conceding penalties and allowing Nicky Robinson to boot Wasps clear.
“I think that we lacked that rugby intelligence at times against Wasps,” said Groves, who played in the second row at Adams Park.
“We made far too many errors and then compounded them by giving away silly penalties.
“A side like Wasps will always punish those mistakes, and they did it severely.
“Bayonne will be no different and to get the win we will need to play with more discipline as well as with heart, commitment and attitude.”
Bayonne predictably got off to a flier against Italian whipping boys Mogliano, running in 11 tries in a 71-7 romp.
Their primary focus will be Top 14 survival this season – they sit 10th, four points above the drop zone – but they will still head to Rodney Parade with an imposing pack that is likely to be marshaled by Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips.
That will be of concern to Dragons fans who have frequently seen their pack outmuscled.
“French teams are always strong in the scrums and lineouts,” said Groves.
“But I think the lineout was a real plus against Wasps, who are excellent in that department. Sam Parry threw in very well and that gives us something to build on.
“We know there is still plenty of room for improvement in the scrum but I think it went a lot better (against Wasps than against the Scarlets the previous week). Hopefully that performance can be a bit of a stepping stone.”
That would go down well with centre/wing Adam Hughes, who scored a belting try at Adams Park, smashing through the attempted tackle of Scotland full-back Hugo Southwell.
“As backs we feel that we can do a lot of damage if we get good ball and I am sure the forwards will be fired up to provide us with more quality possession against Bayonne,” said the 22-year-old.
“It’s a massive game and our defeat against Wasps makes it even more important – we could really do with getting maximum points to drag ourselves back into it.
“Bayonne will be a quality team but we are at home and will have no excuses.”