Preview: Dragons v Edinburgh

Date published: February 7 2014

Edinburgh boss Alan Solomons has named a competitive side for Sunday's clash with the Dragons at Rodney Parade.

Edinburgh boss Alan Solomons has named a competitive side for Sunday's clash with the Dragons at Rodney Parade.

The club are without six Scotland internationals selected to face England in this Saturday's Calcutta Cup clash, while fellow caps Tim Visser (ankle) and Greig Tonks (shoulder) are notable injured absentees.

But Solomons can still field a back-line in which five of the seven have represented Scotland at a senior level, and a gnarled pack with a wealth of senior rugby nous.

Scotland caps Nick De Luca (centre), Jack Cuthbert (full-back) and Tom Brown (wing) are joined by A-capped wing Dougie Fife and scrum-half Grayson Hart, who makes his second start since arriving in the summer.

The back division is completed by new arrivals Carl Bezuidenhout (fly-half) and Andries Strauss (centre), who will make their first start and club debut respectively.

The club also welcome the return of lock Grant Gilchrist from Scotland duty. He packs down with Izak van der Westhuizen in the second row, behind props Wicus Blaauw and Willem Nel, and hooker James Hilterbrand.

The starting side is completed by a back-row of Cornell Du Preez – who moves to number eight in the absence of David Denton – openside stalwart Roddy Grant and New Zealander Mike Coman, who brings the leadership qualites earned as captain of Hawke's Bay to the Murrayfield club, with the honour of skippering the side on his first start.

“Mike [Coman], like some others, was recruited on the grounds of his leadership qualities as well as his rugby ability,” said Solomons.

“He hasn't played much for us because he picked up an injury shortly after he arrived, but he's been part of the squad for some time now, he knows and understands everyone and everything.”

Solomons believes that while an exciting combination of returning internationals, new recruits and blossoming youngsters will take to the field, they are at the start of their journey to becoming a cohesive unit.

“Certainly, on paper, it's a positive sign that we can put out a team like this during the RBS 6 Nations, however a lot of these players have had little game time for us, so we have to bear that in mind and put it in perspective.

“This will be no easy task. Dragons are very tough opponents, especially at home, and are two places above us in the table.”

Meanwhile, lock Rob Sidoli will captain a strong Dragons side on their home turf.

Hallam Amos makes the move from wing to full-back and is joined in the back three by Matthew Pewtner who returns from injury and flanker Will Harries who has moved from open side to blindside.

The centre pairing is the fresh look of Pat Leach and experienced player Ashley Smith. Jason Tovey gets the nod as fly-half and Welsh international Richie Rees takes his place as scrum half.

The front row has changed as Owen Evans steps in as loose head prop, Welsh international hooker T Rhys Thomas is called upon and Dan Way comes in as tight head prop.

The second row is taken up by young gun Cory Hill and Sidoli. As for the back row Lewis Evans and Nic Cudd are named as the flankers and Fijian international Netani Talei pulls on the number eight jersey.

There have been seven changes made amongst the replacements as Aaron Coundley retains his place. He is joined on the bench by Sam Parry, Nathan Buck, Matthew Screech, Jevon Groves, Wayne Evans, Steffan Jones and Ross Wardle.

Form: Dragons' only victory in their last four PRO12 fixtures was 22-16 at home to Cardiff Blues on Boxing Day. Both of the Dragons home defeats in the PRO12 this season have been to Irish provinces, whilst their 23-8 victory in Glasgow on 22 November ended a four game losing run to Scottish opponents. Edinburgh play away from home in the PRO12 for the first time since 22 November, when they lost to Ulster 17-41. The Scotsmen's only away win in the PRO12 in their last ten contests since early December 2012 was 9-7 against Zebre in Parma on 29 March. Edinburgh have not been victorious in Wales since they visited the Arms Park and beat the Blues on 7 September 2012. The last three encounters between the two sides have been won by the home side on the day, whilst Edinburgh's most recent victory at Rodney Parade was 37-11 on 13 May 2006.

The teams:

Dragons: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Matthew Pewtner, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Ashley Smith, 11 Will Harries, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Netani Talei, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Lewis Evans, 5 Rob Sidoli (c), 4 Cory Hill, 3 Dan Way, 2 T Rhys Thomas, 1 Owen Evans.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Aaron Coundley, 18 Nathan Buck, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Jevon Groves, 21 Wayne Evans, 22 Steffan Jones, 23 Ross Wardle.

Edinburgh: 15 Jack Cuthbert, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Nick de Luca, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Carl Bezuidenhout, 9 Grayson Hart, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 Mike Coman (c), 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Willem Nel, 2 James Hilterbrand, 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Ewan McQuillin, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Tomas Leonardi, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Sam Beard, 23 Harry Leonard.

Date: Sunday, February 9
Kickoff: 13:05 GMT
Venue: Rodney Parade
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Wayne Davies (Wales), Simon Rees(Wales)
Television match official: Derek Bevan (Wales)
Citing Commissioner: John Charles (Wales)