Preview: Dragons v London Welsh

Date published: February 6 2015

Dragons outside centre Pat Leach will make his first appearance of the season against London Welsh in their home LV= Cup fixture on Sunday.

The influential midfield man has been out of action since suffering a knee injury during a pre-season friendly against Northampton Saints.

The 29-year-old has been named amongst 13 changes and one positional change to the side that faced table toppers Exeter Chiefs last weekend.

Tom Prydie moves from wing to full-back as Matthew Pewtner returns to the back three alongside wing Ashton Hewitt. The centre partnership consists of Leach and Ashley Smith who retains his place from last weekend. Angus O’Brien steps up to take on the role of fly-half and Luc Jones gets his first start of the 2014/15 season as scrum-half.

The front-row is all change as props Phil Price and Brok Harris get the nod; they are joined by Thomas Rhys Thomas who starts as hooker. The second-row consists of Andrew Coombs who is joined by South-African skipper Rynard Landman. Lewis Evans returns in the back-row as flanker and joins young gun James Benjamin who retains his place. Nick Crosswell makes the move from flanker to number eight to complete the back-row.

There are five changes to the replacements bench as Boris Stankovich will look to get his first run out after recovering from his injury. He joins Rhys Buckley, Dan Way, Ian Gough, Scott Matthews, Richie Rees, Jason Tovey and Jack Dixon on the bench.

Meanwhile, London Welsh make eight changes, including one positional, for Sunday’s LV= Cup clash.

The Exiles’ starting XV includes eight members of its Championship winning side, with three more named on the bench.

In the backs, Will Robinson returns at full-back with Elliot Kear moving to the right wing. Seb Jewell and Nic Reynolds both return from injury to start in the centres, while Piri Weepu is named at scrum-half. Jewell will captain the side.

In the forwards, Nathan Morris starts at hooker, Peter Browne comes back into the side at blindside flanker, and Richard Thorpe at openside flanker.

On the bench, Rob Elloway, who joined the club this week from Cornish Pirates on loan for the remainder of the season, is set to make his debut for London Welsh.

The last time the sides met was at the Kassam Stadium in February 2013 in the LV= Cup when the Dragons came out on top 42-14 – Dragons fly-half Steffan Jones contributing 27 points with Welsh’s scores coming from an Ed Williamson try and three penalties from the boot of Alex Davies.

The teams:

Dragons: 15 Tom Prydie, 14 Matthew Pewtner, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Ashley Smith, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 Angus O’Brien, 9 Luc Jones, 8 Nick Crosswell, 7 James Benjamin, 6 Lewis Evans, 5 Rynard Landman (c), 4 Andrew Coombs, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Thomas Rhys Thomas, 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Buckley, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Dan Way, 19 Ian Gough, 20 Scott Matthews, 21 Richie Rees, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Jack Dixon.

London Welsh: 15 Will Robinson, 14 Elliot Kear, 13 Nic Reynolds, 12 Seb Jewell (c), 11 Nick Scott, 10 Tristan Roberts, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Opeti Fonua, 7 Richard Thorpe, 6 Peter Browne, 5 James Down, 4 Ben West, 3 Taione Vea, 2 Nathan Morris, 1 Nathan Trevett.
Replacements: 16 Rob Elloway, 17 Eddie Aholelei, 18 Jack Gilding, 19 Matt Corker, 20 Jesse Liston, 21 Alex Davies, 22 Olly Barkley, 23 James Tincknell.

Date: Sunday, February 8
Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Venue: Rodney Parade