Dragons in the mood for scrums
SCARLETS v DRAGONS (Tonight, KO 7.05)
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons will be going all-out to exploit the Scarlets’ scrum as they seek a historic win in tonight’s Welsh derby.
A bullish Phil Price has spoken of the Gwent region’s determination to get stuck into and ‘dominate’ the home side’s eight when they clash this evening.
With former Scarlets prop Iestyn Thomas as their new scrum coach, fellow loosehead Price believes the Dragons have what it takes to cause some serious damage.
The home side’s scrum is creaking badly this season and its failure to function played a huge part in their downfall in successive defeats to the Ospreys and Treviso in their last two games.
The Dragons have never won at Parc y Scarlets and are without a league win over the West Walians in nearly five years, a run of eight straight defeats since beating them 15-13 at Rodney Parade on New Year’s Day 2008.
In-form loosehead Price is optimistic they can end their Scarlets hoodoo tonight and also get one over their pack’s former head honcho Danny Wilson, who took over as the hosts’ forwards coach this season.
“The Scarlets seem to be our bogey side in terms of the Welsh teams so hopefully we can put it right this weekend and really get stuck into them and not give them any room to breathe,” the 23-year-old said.
“Their scrum isn’t their best attacking weapon and we have identified a couple of weak areas there and we are going to exploit them.
“We are definitely going to target the scrum and, with Danny Wilson there after coaching us last season, they are going to be all fired up,” he added.
“He’s going to want a big performance up front from them but we’ll be looking to go down there and dominate.”
Price said they will look to cut the supply of quality possession to the Scarlets’ deadly back line which contains real danger men with the likes of George North and Liam Williams.
“We’ll really be looking to attack them, especially at the contact area,” he said.
“We’ll just be really ferocious there so their backs can’t get quick ball – their attacking line is a real threat.”
And with Thomas on board, the Pontypool-born international making 214 and 33 appearances for the Scarlets and Wales respectively between 2002 and 2012 before retiring with a neck injury last season, Price thinks he could hold their ace tonight.
“Iestyn knows it all, he’s been around a long time and he really knows the Scarlets which is a big plus for us this weekend,” he said.
“He’s going to be massively fired up and we can only feed off that.”
Price said he highly rates Thomas’ ability as a new coach: “Iestyn’s very hands on and he knows his stuff – he’d rather take us onto the field and really show us the ins and outs, especially in the loosehead position, showing us the key things we need.
“He’s pretty good off the field as well. He does a lot of analysis on the teams we play and he’s given us a lot of key points on the tightheads we are up against.”
Price was the Dragons’ solitary try-scorer during last Friday’s 32-12 home win over Edinburgh last week, getting his touchdown after a neat lineout ‘one-two’ trick with lock Ian Nimmo.
And he’s happy with the impressive way he’s started this season: “It’s going pretty good and I’m feeling more confident than I was last year.
“I have a fresher look on things this season with Iestyn coming in – he’s taken pressure off me a bit.
“I think I’m relaxing and coming into my stride more and really starting to enjoy it.”