Newport Gwent Dragons centre Ashley Smith is set to captain the Dragons side as he makes his 100th appearance for the region in Friday night’s Rabodirect Pro12 game against the Scarlets (Parc y Scarlets, KO 7:05pm, Live: BBC Wales).
The Dragons have made 3 changes to their squad for their first Welsh derby game of the season. Jevon Groves, Steve Jones and Tom Brown come into the 23 man squad to replace Lewis Evans, Lloyd Burns and Toby Faletau who have been named in the Welsh squad alongside Luke Charteris and Danny Lydiate for the Australia Autumn international.
The Dragons come into the game with confidence having begun their Amlin Challenge Cup campaign with consecutive wins over Prato and Perpignan to top Pool 4.
Players who weren’t involved in the Dragons’ games have been praised for their attitude and stand out performances whilst playing in Pontypool’s 40-24 away win at Tonmawr and Tom Brown put in a man of the match performance for Newport despite a 22-6 loss at Llandovery in the Principality Premiership.
Stefan Jones also stood out with 13 points in Cross Keys’ 32-7 British and Irish Cup win away at Ayr which leaves them top of pool 2 and in a good position to qualify for the knockout stages.
Tonderai Chavhanga has scored 4 tries in 5 appearances since joining the Dragons whilst Jason Tovey is the second most accurate kicker in the Rabodirect Pro12 this season with an 85.2% success rate.
Dragons Head Coach Darren Edwards said of the Scarlets, “they had a great win last week as well, so there will be two teams who are quite confident after the European games. We don’t have a great record against the Scarlets so it’d be nice to go down there and put in a performance.”
“We’ve got a good squad of players here and when we get everyone on the field playing together we’re a threat to most teams. We’ve got to maintain this momentum now that we’ve gained over the previous two games although we’ve got some changes again in our team it’s up to the next set of guys to respond to that challenge but we do need to climb up the league because ultimately we want to play Heineken Cup rugby next year.”
Phil Price, Nathan Williams, Nathan Buck, Dan Way, Steve Jones, Rhys Buckley, Rob Sidoli, Scott Morgan, Adam Jones, Tom Brown, Gavin Thomas, Andrew Coombs, Jevon Groves
Wayne Evans, Joe Bedford, Jason Tovey, Steffan Jones, Aled Brew, Tonderai Chavhanga, Adam Hughes, Lewis Robling, Ashley Smith, Martyn Thomas
Players not available through injury:
Tom Willis – Thumb
Mike Poole – knee
Will Harries – knee
Pat Leach – cheekbone
Jamie Smith – hamstring
Jon Evans – hamstring
Aaron Coundley – bicep
Ben Castle – hamstring
Gethin Robinson – Long Term Injury