THE Dragons face a lock crisis for the bid to avoid a Rodney Parade whitewash by standing up to South African power.

Dean Ryan’s men finish their nightmare 2021/22 season with a home clash against the Lions in the United Rugby Championship on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

The Dragons have not won in Newport since April last year and this season have lost nine games and drawn with Benetton, who were without their sizeable Italy contingent ahead of the Six Nations.

They have a final shot at rewarding their long-suffering fans with a victory but will have to do so without their three first-choice locks.

Wales powerhouse Will Rowlands has missed the last three games with a shoulder injury and is highly unlikely to be risked.

South Wales Argus: INJURED: Dragons lock Ben CarterINJURED: Dragons lock Ben Carter

His fellow international Ben Carter was forced off with a shoulder injury early in the second half of Friday’s home defeat to Cardiff while Joe Davies faces a suspension after being red-carded in the 16th minute for a high shot on Rhys Carre.

That means that Huw Taylor, a flanker by trade, is likely to start alongside Joe Maksymiw with Max Williams as their back-up.

All three are out of contract this summer with the Dragons strengthening their options by signing Welsh-qualified locks George Nott and Sean Lonsdale from English Premiership clubs London Irish and Exeter respectively.

The Dragons have struggled against the power game of the Stormers, Sharks and Bulls with the absence of Rowlands, Carter and Davies harming their chances against the Lions, even if the 11th-placed side bring a weakened team to Europe.

Director of rugby Ryan: “I think that I am going to play second row looking at the resources! My biggest worry is where we are going to get second rows from because Ben was struggling for power in his shoulder.

South Wales Argus: COMMITTED: Dragons flanker Huw Taylor has moved to lockCOMMITTED: Dragons flanker Huw Taylor has moved to lock

“Huw Taylor needs some credit for his performance because that is the second time that he has solved a lineout problem for us, once against the Bulls and against Cardiff with only himself as the option.

“Credit to him for keeping the game cohesive. He has called a lot at the lineout and has always been very diligent, doing the work and being influential in the week.

“That has given him an opportunity after we talked about him moving into that position. We talked about going into games later into a faster back five but needed him to be able to call, and he has responded brilliantly.

“We will see what the bumps and bruises are before seeing what we have got left.”

The Dragons have one game left but several of their players will hope that on Tuesday they will be told their season is continuing.

Wayne Pivac names his squad for the three-Test summer tour to South Africa with Ryan once again putting forward the names of two back rowers who took the battle to Cardiff.

“Harrison Keddie and Ollie Griffiths have to be in the conversation for Wales,” he said. “Those two turn up for us all the time, if this is the week for international conversations then they didn’t do themselves any harm.”