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  • "Yes a good start against the newcomers would set the season off on the right foot but we need to win the next two games as well. A win against Leinster away is a hard call as they won almost all thier home games last season. A Home win against the Blues is very possible and would set the season up well. I will be there shouting them on as hopefully will be a very good crowd of Dragons supporters."
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Dragons looking for a fast start

Dragons looking for a fast start

WORLD CLASS: Wales flanker Dan Lydiate will be available for the Dragons at the start of the season

WORLD CLASS: Wales flanker Dan Lydiate will be available for the Dragons at the start of the season

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

NEWPORT Gwent Dragons will be targeting a fast start to the RaboDirect Pro12 campaign after being handed a first game at home against new Italian franchise Zebre.

Last season the region played catch-up from the off after playing away from Rodney Parade in six of their first eight fixtures because of the construction of the Bisley Stand. They suffered defeat on all of those trips but in the upcoming campaign they have been handed a golden chance to start off on the right foot.

Not only do they host Zebre, who have taken the place of the now defunct Aironi, but they welcome Cardiff Blues and Edinburgh – both of whom they beat last term – to Rodney Parade in September.

With trips to Heineken Cup holders Leinster and fellow Irish big-hitters Munster sandwiched between those home encounters, the pressure will be on to produce the goods in front of the Dragons home faithful.

“If we do our job properly and win our home games then we will be in the mix from the off,” said head coach Darren Edwards.

“But nothing is easy in this league and in some ways Zebre is an uncomfortable game because we are going up against the unknown.

“There is a nice balance to the fixtures as opposed to last season when we were forced to play three away games in Ireland (Leinster, Munster and Connacht) in the first month.

“And playing a derby against Cardiff Blues gives us the chance to set the tone early on.

“Players will be going up against their Welsh rivals and we have always been told that the international management team keeps a close eye on those derby games.

“There are two really tough challenges with trips to the European champions and Munster but we should be served well by our pre-season.

“We will be going from an away friendly at Biarritz to a home one against London Irish. Not only are they both top quality sides but those games will prepare us for the travel aspect.”

The Ospreys will begin the defence of their title with a trip to Italy to face Treviso, the Scarlets start at home to Leinster and Cardiff Blues travel to Connacht.

The Dragons travel to the Ospreys and Cardiff Blues over the festive period while their trip west to Parc y Scarlets is in October with the return fixture in March.

Their first game of 2013 is against Connacht in Galway while the final round of games sees them head to the Scottish capital to take on Edinburgh. The exact dates for the fixtures will be confirmed once league officials meet with their broadcast partners.

Dragons’ Pro 12 fixtures

August

Weekend of 31-2: Dragons v Zebra

September

Weekend of 7-9: Leinster v Dragons; Weekend of 14-16: Dragons v Cardiff Blues; Weekend of 21-23: Munster v Dragons; Weekend of 28-30 Dragons v Edinburgh

October

Weekend of 5-7: Scarlets v DRAGONS; Weekend of 26-28: DRAGONS v Ulster

November

Weekend of 2-4: Glasgow v DRAGONS; Weekend of 23-25: DRAGONS v Connacht; Weekend of 30-2: Benetton Treviso v DRAGONS

December

Weekend of 21-23: DRAGONS v Ospreys; Weekend of 28-30: Cardiff Blues v DRAGONS

January

Weekend of 4-6: Connacht v DRAGONS

February

Weekend of 8-10 DRAGONS v Benetton Treviso; Weekend of 15-17: DRAGONS v Glasgow; Weekend of 22-24: Zebre v DRAGONS

March

Weekend of 1-3: DRAGONS v Leinster; Weekend of 22-24: Ospreys v DRAGONS; Weekend of 29-31: DRAGONS v Scarlets

April

Weekend of 12-14: Ulster v DRAGONS; Weekend of 19-21: DRAGONS v Munster

May

Weekend of 3-5: Edinburgh v DRAGONS

Weekend of 10-12: PLAYOFFS

Saturday 25: FINAL

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