THE Dragons pack will aim to beat Castres' heavy-hitters to the punch in tomorrow's crunch European Challenge Cup clash despite the setback of losing influential prop Brok Harris.

The South African stalwart will miss the trip to France and the Pool One finale against Enisei-STM after being given a two-week suspension.

The prop was cited for a dangerous ruck clear-out in the Guinness PRO14 derby win against the Ospreys and a disciplinary panel deemed his high shot on Wales scrum-half Aled Davies was worthy of a red card.

The 34-year-old has been banned – meaning boss Dean Ryan has to field a new loosehead for the first time since the closing stages of the loss at Worcester on December 7.

Harris played the full 80 minutes against the Scarlets, Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys, helping the Dragons perform strongly in the set piece.

South Wales Argus:

His suspension means that former Wales prop Aaron Jarvis is set to move across from tighthead on his return to France, where he won the Top 14 title with Clermont Auvergne in 2017.

The Dragons have lost Harris but will be boosted by the return of Wales lock Cory Hill as they attempt to stand firm against a Castres onslaught up front and book a place in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals.

"It's a massive game against another huge pack, so we know exactly what is coming. If we can put our best foot forward then we can come away with the result," said forwards coach Ceri Jones.

"Speed was key in the home game and you have to move a team so big and physical around. You need to be quicker in everything that you do.

"They are really big men – the two propsthat played for Castres last week (Sipili Falatea and Wilfrid Hounkpatin) looked 140kgs each – and against them if you get it right technically and get low then you can get an early 'punch' in at the maul and the scrum.

"That negates that (size) problem but if you get it wrong then they are going to expose you, so we have to be on the ball technically."

The Dragons showed resilience in all three festive derbies and in the double-header against Worcester.

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Jones knows that staying calm under pressure will be key at the Stade Pierre-Fabre, where Castres haven't lost a home European fixture for four years.

"We know that at home they will have a period when they will be on top," he said. "We will have to trust our processes and everything that we have put in place to stay in it and then potentially take the game away with them."

The Dragons lead Pool One and would be on the brink of securing a place in the quarter-finals with victory in France because they host minnows Enisei-STM next Friday.

Castres will overtake them with a home success but still have to travel to Worcester.

The Dragons could still make the last eight as one of the best runners-up even if they fail to leave France with anything to show for their efforts.