Preview: Dragons v Munster

Date published: November 28 2013

Dragons boss Lyn Jones has named an unchanged matchday squad for Friday's PRO12 clash with Munster at Rodney Parade.

Dragons boss Lyn Jones has named an unchanged matchday squad for Friday's PRO12 clash with Munster at Rodney Parade.

Jones has put his faith in the team that beat Glasgow Warriors last weekend and will be hoping his troops put in a similar performance against the tournament's front-runners.

Dan Evans starts at 15 with Will Harries and Matthew Pewtner completing the back three. The midfield combination of Pat Leach and Ross Wardle start for the third time this season.

Last weekend's man of the match, Jason Tovey keeps his place at fly-half alongside international scrum half Richie Rees.

Owen Evans, Sam Parry and Francisco Chaparro make up the front row, while young gun Cory Hill and skipper Rob Sidoli fill the second row berths. The back row features Lewis Evans, Nic Cudd and number eight Netani Talei.

Meanwhile, Munster veteran Paul O'Connell will start just his second PRO12 game of the season while South African wing Gerhard van den Heever will make his debut for the Irish province.

Keith Earls, James Downey and Ian Keatley all return from injury while Billy Holland captains the side.

Head coach Rob Penney has continued his rotation policy with 12 changes to the team that beat Cardiff Blues 31-10 last week.

Try-scorer Felix Jones is the only survivor in the backs with CJ Stander and Holland the only forwards to keep their places.

Prop Stephen Archer will earn his 60th cap and is joined in the front row by Dave Kilcoyne and hooker Mike Sherry.

O'Connell and Donncha O'Callaghan make up the second row with Holland, Stander and no. 8 James Coughlan in the back row.

Duncan Williams will be partnered at half-back by the returning Keatley with Downey and Earls starting in the centre positions.

Denis Hurley comes onto the left wing for his first start since injuring his knee against Gloucester with new signing van den Heever making his debut on the opposite flank.

Ian Nagle is named on the replacements bench and could feature for the first time since he injured his left foot against Zebre in the middle of September.

In making 12 changes to a side that performed so impressively last weekend against Cardiff, Penney has given his players a chance to impress ahead of the crucial Heineken Cup double-header against Perpignan.

“There are some players getting an opportunity this week that will need to play well to force their hand in terms of ERC selection,” said the New Zealander.

“It's exciting because the other guys have done their job and when you're growing in depth and guys are getting rotated in, then they've got to perform well when they get their opportunity.”

Form: The Dragons have won their last two matches in all tournaments, beating Wasps at Rodney Parade in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and Glasgow at Scotstoun in the RaboDirect PRO12. Dragons only defeat in their last seven contests at Rodney Parade in all tournaments was 19-23 to Leinster on November 1. Table topping Munster have won their last five fixtures in the PRO12 since Treviso handed them their only defeat so far this season in Italy in Round Three. The Munstermen have won all three previous clashes with Welsh regions this campaign. The Dragons only victory in their last six fixtures with Munster was 30-24 in this equivalent fixture last season, played on April 19. The Munstermen's only win on their last four visits to Rodney Parade was 24-14 on March 3 2012.

The teams:

Dragons: 15 Daniel Evans, 14 Will Harries, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Ross Wardle 11 Matthew Pewtner, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Netani Talei, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Lewis Evans, 5 Robert Sidoli (c), 4 Cory Hill, 3 Francisco Chaparro, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Owen Evans.
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Aaron Coundley, 18 Dan Way, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Ieuan Jones, 21 Wayne Evans, 22 Steffan Jones, 23 Ashley Smith.

Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Keith Earls, 12 James Downey, 11 Denis Hurley, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 James Coughlan, 7 CJ Stander, 6 Billy Holland (c), 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Mike Sherry, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Damien Varley, 17 James Cronin, 18 BJ Botha, 19 Ian Nagle, 20 Barry O'Mahony, 21 Cathal Sheridan, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Ivan Dineen

Date: Friday, November 29
Kick-off: 19:15 GMT
Venue: Rodney Parade
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris (Wales), Simon Rees (Wales)
Citing Commissioner: Gwyn Bowden (Wales)