Preview: Dragons v Connacht

Date published: February 10 2016

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Dragons Director of Rugby Lyn Jones has made four changes to his team for Thursday's clash with Connacht at Rodney Parade.

The back three has one change to it as wing Nick Scott joins fellow wing Ashton Hewitt and full-back Carl Meyer. The centre partnership has no changes made to it as last weekends try scorer Adam Hughes retains his place alongside Adam Warren. 

Fly-half Jason Tovey returns to full fitness and is named in the half-backs alongside scrum-half Sarel Pretorius.

The front row remains unchanged as props Phil Price and Brok Harris join hooker Elliot Dee. The second row also retain their places as Matthew Screech and skipper Rynard Landman get the nod. 

The back row has one change to it as Nick Crosswell is named at number eight along side flankers Ben White and Nic Cudd.

The replacements bench has two changes made to it as Charlie Davies and Angus O'Brien join Rhys Buckley, Boris Stankovich, Shaun Knight, Cory Hill, James Benjamin and Geraint Rhys Jones. The coaching team have also named versatile back Ross Wardle in their extended matchday squad.

Meanwhile, Connacht head coach Pat Lam has made three personnel changes to his starting line-up.

AJ MacGinty will make his fifth start in a Connacht jersey this season, replacing the injured Jack Carty at fly-half. 

Meanwhile, Bundee Aki shifts to outside centre to facilitate the introduction of Craig Ronaldson in the number 12 shirt and the only change to the pack sees Rodney Ah You come in to the front row.

Prop Finlay Bealham, lock Ultan Dillane and Ireland scrum-half Kieran Marmion have all been released today by Joe Schmidt to join up with the Connacht squad for tomorrow's Round 14 clash.

Galway-born back row Eoin McKeon has returned from injury to earn a place on the bench while Academy centre Peter Robb is named among the substitute backs.

Commenting on the team selection and the upcoming game, head coach Pat Lam said: "With a short week for us in terms of preparation and travel, we began our planning for Dragons before the break and the boys returned on Monday refreshed and eager to get back into their work. 

"It's great to have Kieran (Marmion) Finlay (Bealham) and Ultan (Dillane) back from Irish camp for this game but given that they haven't trained with us this week, they will add impact from the bench.

"The Dragons are in good form and are playing some great team rugby. It's clear for us to see that they are a different side to the one we faced at the Sportsground in Round 1. 

"They have already beaten our fellow Irish provinces Munster and Leinster at Rodney Parade and were desperately unlucky to lose in the final minute to Ulster in Belfast last week. 

"o we are under no illusions as to how tough the challenge will be in Newport, and in tough conditions. Once again our focus will be on our team work and work ethic on and off the ball to enable us to put in a performance that will continue to keep us in the top four of the competition."

Form: Dragons have won just two of their last eight PRO12 encounters, at home to Munster and Leinster in Rounds 9 and 13 respectively. Dragons only defeat at Rodney Parade since early November was by a single point to Cardiff Blues in the PRO12 on 27 December. Connacht have won their last two matches in all competitions, against Enisei in the European Challenge Cup and over Scarlets in the PRO12 – both games were played in Galway. Connacht have lost their last five away games since beating Munster 18-12 in Limerick on 28 November. Connacht have won their last six encounters with Dragons, whilst the Welshmen's only victory over the Irish province in their last nine fixtures was 14-3 at Rodney Parade in the PRO12 in November 2012.

The teams:

Dragons: 15 Carl Meyer, 14 Ashton Hewitt, 13 Adam Hughes, 12 Adam Warren, 11 Nick Scott, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Nick Crosswell, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Ben White, 5 Rynard Landman (c), 4 Matthew Screech, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Phil Price. 
Replacements: 16 Rhys Buckley, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Cory Hill, 20 James Benjamin, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Angus O'Brien, 23 Geraint Rhys Jones

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O'Halloran, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Bundee Aki, 12 Craig Ronaldson, 11 Matt Healy, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Caolin Blade, 8 Eoghan Masterson, 7 Jake Heenan, 6 John Muldoon (c), 5 Aly Muldowney, 4 George Naoupu, 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley. 
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Ronan Loughney, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Eoin McKeon, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Peter Robb, 23 Rory Parata

Date: Thursday, February 11
Venue: Rodney Parade
Kick-off: 19:30 GMT
Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Dan Jones (Wales), Simon Rees (Wales)

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