Preview: Dragons v Cardiff Blues

Date published: April 28 2011

Steffan Jones will make his first start for the Dragons as the region tackle Cardiff Blues in Friday's regional clash at Rodney Parade.

Steffan Jones will make his first start for the Dragons as the region take on the Cardiff Blues in the regional clash at Rodney Parade on Friday.

The Dragons may no longer be able to make the Magners League play-offs themselves, but they hold the cards of other Welsh sides in their hands.

They play both the third and fourth placed teams – Cardiff Blues and Ulster – before the end of the season. And the results of those matches will have an impact on Scarlets and Ospreys chances of claiming a top four spot.

The game is expected to sell out but there are still a handful of tickets available for the derby match which promises to be a great derby affair.

Head Coach Darren Edwards has decided to use every avenue to boost the team on Friday, sharing the motivational video used in the run-up to the Ospreys game to get the fans ready to put themselves behind the Men of Gwent.

“A good end to the season is crucial and tomorrow's result will have a massive bearing on that,” Edwards told the region's website.

“We are not going out there hoping something will happen – we are going out to make it happen.

“Everybody was a part of the win against the Ospreys here 2 weeks ago. The team all played well, the backroom staff ensured the players were well-prepared and of course our supporters played a massive role in helping us to that great win. Their support will be just as important tomorrow if we are going to get the all-important win.

The Men of Gwent will be wearing a one-off charity shirt designed by Richard Parks in aid of his 737 Challenge to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

“It's great to see Richard Parks' challenge going so well,” said Edwards.

“The boys were delighted to be supporting him as he takes on this massive challenge. A lot of us know Richard from his time here. He was a great influence on the team during his time here and that will continue.”

Meanwhile, Dan Fish will play at full-back for the Blues, with Chris Czekaj moving to the wing in place of the Leigh Halfpenny who picked up and ankle injury in the win over Treviso.

Halfpenny is expected to miss the remaining matches of the regular season.

The Blues travel to Rodney Parade knowing that a victory would guarantee them a top four finish; deny Scarlets a play-off spot and end Ospreys' hopes of retaining their title.

Any other result would see the make-up of the remaining three play-off places go down to the last round of games.

The Blues require a win by a margin of more than nine points and also obtain a four-try bonus point if they are to displace Leinster in second place in the league table going into the last round of fixtures.

Form: The Blues have lost just once on the road in the competition since December: 13-32 at Ulster on 25 February and have won their last eight clashes with Dragons since the Men from Gwent were victorious 14-13 at Rodney Parade on 27 December 2006. The Dragons' two-game winning run in the Magners League came to a halt against Edinburgh at Murrayfield on Friday. The Dragons have lost just one of their last seven league matches played at Rodney Parade since September: 16-26 to Leinster on 27 March.

The teams:

Dragons: 15 Stefan Jones, 14 Adam Hughes, 13 Tom Riley, 12 Ashley Smith, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Wayne Evans, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Gavin Thomas, 6 Danny Lydiate, 5 Adam Jones, 4 Luke Charteris (capt), 3 Ben Castle, 2 Lloyd Burns, 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Tom Willis, 17 Hugh Gustafson, 18 Dan Way, 19 Andrew Coombs, 20 Lewis Evans, 21 Pat Leach, 22 Jonathan Evans, 23 Mathew Jones.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Chris Czekaj, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tom James, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Xavier Rush, 7 Sam Warburton/Ben White, 6 Michael Paterson, 5 Paul Tito (capt), 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Gareth Williams, 1 John Yapp.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Williams, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Deiniol Jones, 20 Ma'ama Molitika, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Dafydd Hewitt.

Date: Friday, April 29
Kick-off: 16:05 (15:05 GMT)
Venue: Rodney Parade
Referee: James Jones (Wales)
Assistant Referees: David Jones (Wales), Hugh Watkins (Wales)