Dragons must face mighty Ulster without ace Faletau

WALES DUTY: Toby Faletau

WALES DUTY: Toby Faletau

First published in Sport South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author by

NEWPORT Gwent Dragons will be without Wales star Toby Faletau as they attempt to topple Europe’s only unbeaten team at Rodney Parade on Friday night.

Caretaker coach Rob Howley will name the 21-year-old in his Wales squad for the autumn internationals this morning.

The number eight will travel with the rest of his international team-mates for a training camp in Spala, Poland, on Saturday, so will not be with his region for the daunting clash with Ulster.

The Irish province have won all five of their RaboDirect Pro12 fixtures so far and are two-from-two in the Heineken Cup.

The task of becoming the first team to send Ulster packing isn’t helped by the Dragons back-row problems, with Faletau absent and Dan Lydiate, Hywel Stoddart, Andrew Coombs and Darren Waters on the treatment table.

“We always knew that we would lose Toby, and Dan before his injury, but we haven’t been helped by a number of injuries to players that were going to help cover,” said head coach Darren Edwards.

“Toby is a hugely influential player for us but this is not something that has caught us by surprise and it’s up to the next man to step up to the plate.”

That individual is likely to be Tom Brown, who has been playing out of position at blindside flanker recently, with Jevon Groves replacing Faletau and Ieuan Jones and Nic Cudd vying for spots on the bench. The absence of Faletau is a blow but the Dragons head into the clash encouraged by a much-improved display against Bayonne in the Amlin Challenge Cup.

The French outfit sneaked a 22-19 win after repelling a stirring 21-phase Dragons attack after the 80 minutes had elapsed.

“I’m really disappointed that we didn’t get the win because we went toe to toe with a very good side,” said Edwards.

“I thought it was a great performance by our forwards, who had a real mental toughness and stood up to a big Bayonne pack.

“It shows that the performances are in us, we’ve got all the weapons and the frustrating thing is that the Pro12 table would look a lot better if we had played like that in a number of league fixtures.

“That needs to be our benchmark and that is the standard that we drive for on the training- ground – and I can assure you we are working really, really hard for that.

“It was a much better performance but if we think Bayonne are a big European team then they are nothing on Ulster.

“They are the form team at the moment. It’s an even bigger challenge and we need an even bigger performance.”

Comments (7)

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5:31pm Mon 22 Oct 12

mep says...

I would imagine Ulster to rest many of their first choices for this.
I would imagine Ulster to rest many of their first choices for this. mep
  • Score: 0

5:57pm Mon 22 Oct 12

Robert Shillabeer says...

A performance with as much heart as last Saturday and they won't, they will look at it and think we need to be strong and take no chances, best play the first team just in case.
A performance with as much heart as last Saturday and they won't, they will look at it and think we need to be strong and take no chances, best play the first team just in case. Robert Shillabeer
  • Score: 0

7:59pm Mon 22 Oct 12

East Newport Dave says...

Ulster can afford to take a break and canter in a win by 10 points. The only thing to save us from a 50 pointer will be European commitments.
Ulster can afford to take a break and canter in a win by 10 points. The only thing to save us from a 50 pointer will be European commitments. East Newport Dave
  • Score: 0

8:07pm Mon 22 Oct 12

East Newport Dave says...

We are a small Welsh team!!!! The population of Gwent is 554,000. We are being coached by a sap!
We are a small Welsh team!!!! The population of Gwent is 554,000. We are being coached by a sap! East Newport Dave
  • Score: 0

8:16pm Mon 22 Oct 12

East Newport Dave says...

2 Nov 2011 – Population of Bayonne, France. Population The population of Bayonne, France is 44396

That's 'the big French team' Darren is talking about - the population of Chepstow and Caldicot combined. That is how poorly we are performing!
2 Nov 2011 – Population of Bayonne, France. Population The population of Bayonne, France is 44396 That's 'the big French team' Darren is talking about - the population of Chepstow and Caldicot combined. That is how poorly we are performing! East Newport Dave
  • Score: 0

9:55pm Mon 22 Oct 12

emlynkide says...

sorry lads, nothing to do with populations
bayonne are full with imports, because they are owned by money bags, and the dragons are not.
sorry lads, nothing to do with populations bayonne are full with imports, because they are owned by money bags, and the dragons are not. emlynkide
  • Score: 0

10:14am Tue 23 Oct 12

SWBorderer says...

I feel the policy of developing young local talent is the correct one, however, in order for the youngsters to develop we need a solid core to give them a platform to work from. I really have little problem with the team apart from the front five forwards.

I don't criticise the personel in the second row, but our best choices are approaching their sell by date and there doesn't seem to be a strong physical presence coming through from local talent, it's not a serious problem as yet as I believe Nimmo will improve.

The problem as ever is the front row. We have some talented youngsters there and in a couple of years they could give us the solidity we need, however, to expect them to fulfil that role at this stage of their development could well do more harm than good, and this is where I criticise those at the top. They have had plenty of time to see and sort out the problem but have buried their heads in the sand.

I have supported rugby at the Parade all my life and have travelled considerable distances to do so, I still hope to be able to do so again, as just to walk into the ground brings back so many memories. I don't like the current so called regional rugby but accept that there is little financial alternative, and will support the Dragons through thick and thin.

It saddens me to see my team in such a sorry state but I do believe the situation is recoverable with the right people running the show, and that is where changes need to be made.
I feel the policy of developing young local talent is the correct one, however, in order for the youngsters to develop we need a solid core to give them a platform to work from. I really have little problem with the team apart from the front five forwards. I don't criticise the personel in the second row, but our best choices are approaching their sell by date and there doesn't seem to be a strong physical presence coming through from local talent, it's not a serious problem as yet as I believe Nimmo will improve. The problem as ever is the front row. We have some talented youngsters there and in a couple of years they could give us the solidity we need, however, to expect them to fulfil that role at this stage of their development could well do more harm than good, and this is where I criticise those at the top. They have had plenty of time to see and sort out the problem but have buried their heads in the sand. I have supported rugby at the Parade all my life and have travelled considerable distances to do so, I still hope to be able to do so again, as just to walk into the ground brings back so many memories. I don't like the current so called regional rugby but accept that there is little financial alternative, and will support the Dragons through thick and thin. It saddens me to see my team in such a sorry state but I do believe the situation is recoverable with the right people running the show, and that is where changes need to be made. SWBorderer
  • Score: 0

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