Preview: Dragons v Leinster

Date published: January 28 2016

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Newport Gwent Dragons will look to retain their home-ground success in this season when they host Leinster in the PRO12 at Rodney Parade on Friday.

Dragons Director of Rugby Lyn Jones, has made four changes to the team that faced Sale Sharks in the European Rugby Challenge Cup last week.

The Dragons previous encounter against the Irishmen saw Leinster take the win when the two sides met earlier on the season, however the Men of Gwent will be looking for the same form they had when they achieved a PRO12 double over them last season.

Full-back Carl Meyer returns to the starting XV after failing a fitness test last weekend. He is joined in the back three by wings Ashton Hewitt and Hallam Amos. The centre partnership remains unchanged as Adam Hughes and Adam Warren get the nod. Fly-half Jason Tovey also retains his position alongside scrum-half Sarel Pretorius.

The front row sees the inclusion of hard hitting prop Boris Stankovich who starts alongside tight-head prop Brok Harris and hooker Thomas Rhys Thomas (c). Lock Rynard Landman is partnered with young-gun Matthew Screech in the second row and the back row sees versatile forward Lewis Evans move to number 8 with Nick Crosswell and Nic Cudd as flankers.

The replacements bench sees the inclusion of Phil Price, Cory Hill, James Benjamin and Geraint Rhys Jones as they join Elliot Dee, Shaun Knight, Charlie Davies and Nick Scott.

The front row sees the inclusion of hard hitting prop Boris Stankovich who starts alongside tight-head prop Brok Harris and hooker Thomas Rhys Thomas (c). Lock Rynard Landman is partnered with young-gun Matthew Screech in the second row and the back row sees versatile forward Lewis Evans move to number 8 with Nick Crosswell and Nic Cudd as flankers.

The replacements bench sees the inclusion of Phil Price, Cory Hill, James Benjamin and Geraint Rhys Jones as they join Elliot Dee, Shaun Knight, Charlie Davies and Nick Scott.

Meanwhile, Leinster Rugby Head Coach Leo Cullen has announced his starting squad for the trip to Rodney Parade.

With in excess of 30 players missing through Irish call ups (senior and Under 20s) and injury, there are in total 12 changes from the team that faced Wasps last weekend and a number of first time appearances in the match day squad for those on the bench.

Luke McGrath has also been named captain for the first time in his Leinster career as he makes his seventh start of the campaign. It is his most starts to date in a single season in his 38 appearances to date.

There is one positional switch in the backs as try scorer from last week Zane Kirchner switches from the right wing to full back, with Fergus McFadden returning from suspension to take his place on the left wing while Academy winger Adam Byrne makes his first start for Leinster on the right wing just over three years after his first and only cap to date for Leinster.

On that occasion Byrne came off the bench against Connacht in a 17-0 home win to become the youngest player to ever play for Leinster at just 18 years, eight months and twenty days. Injuries have cut across his progress since then but the UCD club man has been performing very well this season for UCD in the AIL, the Leinster 'A' team in the British & Irish Cup and indeed with the Irish 7s team.

Elsewhere Ben Te'o and Garry Ringrose renew their partnership in the centre, while St Michael's past-pupils Luke McGrath and Cathal Marsh fill the number nine and ten jerseys respectively.

In the pack Peter Dooley, James Tracy and Michael Bent start in the front row with all three starters last week in Irish camp or injured.

Ross Molony is joined by Hayden Triggs in the second row. Triggs makes his first start since injuring his ankle in the Champions Cup game against Bath in November, an injury that subsequently required surgery.

Dominic Ryan at blind side and Jordi Murphy at number eight are retained from last weekend, while Dan Leavy comes into the pack at open side. Leavy is the leading try scorer in this seasons British & Irish Cup with eight tries in the six Pool 1 games.

On the bench Academy players Jeremy Loughman, Oisín Heffernan and Peadar Timmins are all in line to make their Leinster debuts. Loughman and Heffernan are both in their first year in the Academy and Timmins, who has captained the Leinster 'A' team this season, is in his second.

Form: Newport Gwent Dragons have won just one of their last four encounters: 31-18 at home to Castres in the European Challenge Cup on January 15, while their only victory in their last six PRO12 fixtures was 22-6 over Munster at Rodney Parade in round nine. Leinster have won their last seven PRO12 matches since tripping up at Scarlets on 16 October, their only defeat this season to a Welsh Region. Leinster won 37-13 when the two sides met in round 3 to reverse the trend of last season where the Welsh-men achieved a PRO12 double over the Leinster-men for the first time.

The teams:

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

Leinster: 15 Zane  Kirchner, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Ben Te’o, 11 Fergus McFadden, 10 Cathal Marsh, 9 Luke McGrath (captain), 8 Peter Dooley, 7 James  Tracy, 6 Michael Bent, 5 Ross Molony, 4 Hayden Triggs, 3 Dominic Ryan, 2 Dan Leavy, 1 Jodi Murphy
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Jeremy Loughman, 18 Oisin Heffernan, 19 Tadhg Beirne, 20 Peadar Timmins, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Noel Reid

Date: Friday, 29 January
Venue: Rodney Parade
Kick-off:  19:05 GMT
Referee: Marius Mitrea (France)
Assistant referees: Craig Evans (Wales) Sean Brickell (Wales)
TMO: Tim Hayes (Wales)

 

 

 

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