THE Dragons trio of Aaron Wainwright, Rio Dyer and Elliot Dee make it a grand slam of Six Nations games after being named in the Wales XV to face Italy in Cardiff on Saturday (kick-off 2.15pm).

Number eight Wainwright and wing Dyer make their fifth starts of the campaign while hooker Dee continues as a starter after earning a promotion with a strong showing against Scotland in round one.

Warren Gatland brings back his experienced midfield of Nick Tompkins and George North for the bid to avoid the wooden spoon at Principality Stadium.

Captain Dafydd Jenkins returns to lock alongside Adam Beard with Alex Mann coming in at blindside while there is a first start of the championship for tighthead Dillon Lewis.

With Dragons prop Leon Brown still sidelined by injury, the back-up on the right side of the front frow is uncapped Harri O’Connor.

South Wales Argus: Wales were thrashed by France in CardiffWales were thrashed by France in Cardiff (Image: PA)

Gatland said: “This is an important game for us. We definitely don’t want to finish bottom and the squad is hungry to win.

“Italy have quality players throughout the side and have been good at taking opportunities when they get them to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

“We're excited and will step up and welcome the challenge ahead. We’re still looking for that 80 minute performance and have spoken about needing to be better in the big moments especially.

“We understand that external pressure and expectation comes with international rugby. It’s about embracing that, continuing the hard work and fronting up in training to go out there and be accurate and disciplined on Saturday.”

Tommy Reffell has overcome an injury to start at openside, dashing Dragons back rower Taine Basham’s hopes of a recall.

Full-back/fly-half Cai Evans also sits out the finale with his only action of the Six Nations being an extremely brief cameo at Twickenham.


15. Cameron Winnett (Cardiff Rugby / Caerdydd – 4 caps)
14. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby / Caerdydd – 58 caps)
13. George North (Ospreys / Gweilch – 120 caps)
12. Nick Tompkins (Saracens / Saraseniaid – 35 caps)
11. Rio Dyer (Dragons / Dreigiau – 18 caps)
10. Sam Costelow (Scarlets – 11 caps)
9. Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby / Caerdydd – 57 caps)
1. Gareth Thomas (Ospreys / Gweilch – 29 caps)
2. Elliot Dee (Dragons / Dreigiau – 50 caps)
3. Dillon Lewis (Harlequins – 56 caps)
4. Dafydd Jenkins (Exeter Chiefs / Caerwysg – 16 caps) Captain / Capten
5. Adam Beard (Ospreys / Gweilch – 55 caps)
6. Alex Mann (Cardiff Rugby / Caerdydd – 4 caps)
7. Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers / Caerlŷr – 17 caps)
8. Aaron Wainwright (Dragons / Dreigiau – 47 caps)

16. Evan Lloyd (Cardiff Rugby / Caerdydd – 1 cap)
17. Kemsley Mathias (Scarlets – 1 cap)
18. Harri O’Connor (Scarlets – uncapped / heb gap)
19. Will Rowlands (Racing 92 – 32 caps)
20. Mackenzie Martin (Cardiff Rugby / Caerdydd – 2 caps)
21. Kieran Hardy (Scarlets – 20 caps)
22. Ioan Lloyd (Scarlets – 6 caps)
23. Mason Grady (Cardiff Rugby / Caerdydd – 10 caps)