DRAGONS boss Dean Ryan has warned of a backlash from the wounded Ospreys at Rodney Parade today as his side prepare to cope with being derby favourites.

The Dragons have been tipped to take the spoils in the last of the all-Welsh winter tussles in the Guinness PRO14 (kick-off 3pm).

Ryan's region are buoyed by their last-gasp win against the Scarlets and a battling display when edged out by Cardiff Blues in the capital, performances that have led to optimism in the east.

Conversely, the men from the Liberty Stadium, Wales' best team last season, have endured a torrid 2019/20 that has featured 12 losses from 13 games, the latest a humiliating 44-0 hammering by the Scarlets.

However, they head east with a strong XV that features World Cup stars George North, Aled Davies Nicky Smith, Adam Beard, Bradley Davies and Justin Tipuric along with Wales internationals Scott Williams and Luke Morgan with Dragons great Dan Lydiate among the replacements.

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South Wales Argus:

"Over the last couple of years we have people experienced some of the pain that they are going through at the moment," said director of rugby Ryan.

"It would be foolish of us to underestimate how hard they have been working to get it right. The lower a side gets in terms of confidence and results, the more it means that at some stage it is going to bounce back.

"They are too good a side to not bounce back, we've just got to make sure we don't allow it to be this weekend.

"That's a challenge for us, it's been a tough derby period but we have been competitive and are starting to make some strides.

"Now we have a different challenge against a side that's wounded from last week. That's a driver that we have used in the past and suddenly it's another region using it.

"We recognised this is a week where we had to work really hard to get our preparation right.

"We spend a lot of time focusing on ourselves but you can't help but recognise the space they are in, because we have been there. We know they will bounce back.

"It's very important that we keep challenging ourselves to get better, and that we don't allow where they are and what they are going through to come a focus point.

"Preparing to play a side that is wounded from last week is a new experience for us and we have to get into this game in the right shape."

South Wales Argus:

The Dragons are six points ahead of the Ospreys, who they beat in Newport last season, and been praised for their performances in the first half of the campaign.

Their tenacity in victory against the Scarlets and in defeat against the Blues means they are favourites to take the spoils.

"I'd imagine it's a very new thing and something that we have got to be wary of," admitted Ryan.

"We are not at a stage where we truly understand internal drivers, we've used external drivers before and people writing us off.

"We spend a lot of time, not just this week, about it being about us and what standards we want to set and how hard we want to work.

"This is a test of that. We've got to make sure we don't allow them an opportunity to bounce back against us."