Dragons shed 17 players

NEWPORT Gwent Dragons confirmed today that 17 players – including former Wales internationals Nathan Brew and Matthew J Watkins – have left the region.

As well as releasing wing/centre Brew, 29, who scored 14 tries in 75 appearances for the Dragons, and centre Watkins, 32, utility back Matt Evans, 23, a Canada cap and World Cup hopeful, also bids farewell to Rodney Parade.

Other departing backs are centres Rhodri Gomer Davies, 28, and Tom Cooper, 24, Cross Keys wing Jamie Davies, 22, and Wales Sevens man and scrum-half Nicky Griffiths, aged 26.

The front row forwards released are ex-Wasps prop Ali McKenzie, 29, whose Dragons career was blighted by injury, and tighthead Pat Palmer, 23, hookers Arthur Ellis, also 23, Craig Attwell, 20, and 26-year-old Duane Goodfield (forced to retire on medical advice after failing to recover from a shoulder injury).

Newport second row Adam Brown, 23, and Pontypool lock Rhydian Wilson, 19, have exited as well as back rowers James Thomas, 20, and 32-year-old crowd favourite Joe Bearman, who agreed a deal with the Ospreys earlier in the year.

The Dragons’ director of rugby Robert Beale paid tribute to those leaving and thanked them for their commitment. “It is a part of rugby that the end of each season sees a certain amount of player movement,” he said. “These players have all put in a great deal of effort for the Dragons and we would like to thank them for the commitment they have shown to the region during their time here.”

- Ex-Dragons head coach Paul Turner has taken Hertfordshire to the English County Championship final in Twickenham on Sunday where they face Lancashire.

Turner and former Dragon, 2005 Grand Slam-winning captain and No 8 Michael Owen, have been giving their expertise to the side which hammered Gloucestershire 53-8 in their semi-final on Saturday.

Turner spoke of his delight at guiding Hertfordshire, where he lives, to the final in their 75th anniversary season.

“It has been fun coaching here,” he said. “It’s given people around here a lot of satisfaction.”

He added: “They are a semi-professional side who’ve never been to Twickenham.

“Gloucestershire don’t often get beaten by 50 or so points, no matter what side they put out.”

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