THE Dragons are without Nick Tompkins for their Boxing Day derby with Cardiff Blues because the Wales centre is on compassionate leave.

The 25-year-old, who is on a season-long loan from Saracens, will miss the first of the festive derbies after returning to England.

That means Jack Dixon, normally a 12, will start at 13 in the absence of the injured Adam Warren (groin).

The Dragons are also without their first-choice half-backs with fly-half Sam Davies out with a calf strain and scrum-half Rhodri Williams in isolation.

South Wales Argus: ISOLATING: Rhodri WilliamsISOLATING: Rhodri Williams

The captain tested negative for coronavirus this week but came into contact with somebody who had a community transmission.

Tavis Knoyle and Josh Lewis start at 9 and 10 while the Dragons are boosted by the return of wing Ashton Hewitt, back row forwards Harri Keddie and Aaron Wainwright, lock Matthew Screech and (replacement) tighthead Leon Brown.

They missed the Champions Cup fixtures against Wasps and Bordeaux-Begles because of a pair of Covid positives and resulting isolation after close-contact reviews.

Centre Jamie Roberts and Wales speedster Jonah Holmes, who starts at full-back rather than wing, are back after being rested for the trip to France.

The Dragons have suffered blows in the second row with Joe Davies and Joe Maksymiw both ruled out after impressing in Bordeaux.

That means Screech and Ben Carter start with Lewis Evans, primarily a back rower, covering lock from the bench.

Cory Hill will head for the away changing room following his summer departure from Rodney Parade and the Wales forward will then lead out the visitors.

He starts at blindside rather than lock while full-back Hallam Amos will face the Dragons in Newport for the first time after leaving in 2019.

Dragons: J Holmes; O Jenkins, J Dixon, J Roberts, A Hewitt; J Lewis, T Knoyle; B Harris, E Dee, L Fairbrother, B Carter, M Screech, H Keddie, T Basham, A Wainwright.
Replacements: R Hibbard, A Jarvis, L Brown, L Evans, H Taylor, L Baldwin, A Owen, E Lloyd.

Cardiff Blues: H Amos; A Summerhill, G Smith, M Llewellyn, J Adams; J Evans, L Williams; B Thyer, K Dacey, D Lewis, B Murphy, S Davies, C Hill, J Turnbull, J Botham.