AFTER spending two years in Galway, sharing a house with Connacht fly-half Jack Carty in the suburb of Knocknacarra, Joe Maksymiw knows better than trusting his weather app for this evening.

Tonight the Dragons hunt a first win of the United Rugby Championship season and a first win at the Sportsground since the first year of regional rugby (kick-off 5.15pm).

It is a venue that presents a unique challenge, one that can give full-backs nightmares and prompt hookers to have a meltdown.

Maksymiw will be to the fore this evening when calling the lineout for the Dragons, who hope to profit from his local knowledge.

The lock is from Leicester with Ukrainian heritage and qualifies for Ireland and Wales, with that playing a part in his journey from the East Midlands to Galway to Newport.

Maskymiw played 25 times for Connacht before making the move to the Dragons and knows to expect the unexpected on the west coast.


Dragons lock Joe Maksymiw

Dragons lock Joe Maksymiw

"You can have rain, sun, snow, wind, hurricanes all in one match," said the 26-year-old. "The weather forecast looks alright at the moment but I've learnt to never trust them.

"If the rain and the wind comes in then it becomes based around the tight five but I don't think you can go there thinking you are going to play one way.

"The weather can do anything so you have to be able to play lots of ways – Connacht don't just play up the jumper, they play an expansive game. You have to be adaptable out there."

The Irish province have turned into a formidable side with Andy Friend building on the work done by Pat Lam, who famously led them to a remarkable title five years ago.

Connacht are an inspiration for teams like the Dragons, who would love to follow their lead by being in the mix for play-offs and Europe's elite tournament.

"They are a really tight group of boys who play for each other," said Maksymiw, who started against his old side in last season's 30-20 loss at Rodney Parade.

"Connacht make it a really tough place to go and make it a fortress with some big results over the years; when I was there we beat Montpellier in the Champions Cup.

"It's a tough place to go but we can take confidence from the performance last week to go there and get a result."

The lock refers to Sunday's 7-6 loss to Leinster at Rodney Parade, a tight tussle in which the Dragons dug deep to stay in the fight and then close to within a point in the closing stages.

They have travelled to Galway after bonus points against the Ospreys and the PRO14 champions but Maksymiw believes their frustration at only getting consolations is a sign of progress.


CHANCE: Joe Maksymiw is back in the Dragons XV to face Connacht

CHANCE: Joe Maksymiw is back in the Dragons XV to face Connacht

"I think we are improving and you can see that in the results. We are all massively disappointed that we lost to Leinster and that probably says something," he said.

"We were all in the changing room feeling down and silent. We feel it was a real opportunity that we didn't take, and I guess that shows development."

Maksymiw has made a pair of appearances off the bench in the URC, replacing Will Rowlands late on against the Ospreys and Ben Carter last week.

He joins forces with Rowlands tonight with hard-grafting Joe Davies backing them up.

"We've got a really good group of second rows here and we all work really well together," said Maksymiw.

"Fair play to Carts, he had a great year and was outstanding. Will has come in and his stats have been fantastic and you know what big Joe offers.

"To learn off each other and compete is vital, then you have to take your chance when it comes."