Preview: Dragons v Munster

Date published: September 16 2016

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Dragons head coach Kingsley Jones has made five personnel changes and one positional change to the team that beat Zebre last weekend.

Full-back Carl Meyer returns to play, after recovering from concussion against Ulster, he joins the back three alongside wings Hallam Amos and Pat Howard. The centre partnership sees Tyler Morgan retain his position with Jack Dixon getting the nod from Jones. The half-backs remain unchanged for the third week as fly-half Nick Macleod and scrum-half Sarel Pretorius are named.

The front-row sees two changes made as prop Sam Hobbs is named alongside Brok Harris. Hooker Rhys Buckley joins them in the starting XV as Thomas Rhys Thomas continues with his recovery after suffering a sore neck during the Zebre match. The second-row remains unchanged as Nick Crosswell and Rynard Landman are given the nod. The back-row includes flanker Ollie Griffiths who joins Lewis Evans and Ed Jackson.

The replacements bench sees Darran Harris, Thomas Davies, Craig Mitchell, Cory Hill and Adam Warren join James Thomas, Charlie Davies and Angus O’Brien.

Dragons backs coach, Shaun Connor commented: "Munster have changed the way they defend and you can see that they have a South African in charge because they are very well structured and organised.

"They are the lowest passing team in the league in the first two games and probably the highest for kicks; their game is about putting pressure on and playing in the right areas.

"It's effective for them and they try to get you in your half and squeeze you. We saw from the Scarlets game that when they get into your 22 they are very powerful and effective."

Meanwhile Rassie Erasmus has made six personnel changes to the side that were beaten by Cardiff Blues last week. Named in the starting XV are returning internationals Conor Murray and Keith Earls, while Ireland colleagues Donnacha Ryan and CJ Stander also make their first starts of the season.

The side includes a number of new combinations with Jean Kleyn and Ryan packing down in the second row, Murray and Tyler Bleyendaal in the half-backs, and Dan Goggin and Earls in the midfield partnership, all starting alongside each other for the first time. 

The front-row stays unchanged with James Cronin, Niall Scannell and John Ryan starting together for the third successive round. Last week's back three of Ronan O'Mahony, Darren Sweetnam and Andrew Conway also remain in situ.

Captain Billy Holland makes the positional switch to blindside flanker this week, with Jack O'Donoghue moving to openside flanker as Stander completes the starting pack at eight.

Colm O'Shea has been named among the replacements and is in line to make his first appearance for the province if sprung from the bench.

Form: The Dragons' long unwanted winless run in the PRO12 ended with their 11-6 victory over Zebre at Rodney Parade last Friday. Dragons have not beaten an Irish province since a 23-13 victory at home to Leinster in January. Munster’s three game winning run in the PRO12 was halted by Cardiff Blues in Cork last Friday. The Munstermen were victorious at Scarlets in Round One but have not won successive matches in Wales since November 2014. Munster have lost just one of their last six fixtures against Dragons – 6-22 at Rodney Parade in this equivalent fixture last season. 

The teams:

Dragons: 15 Carl Meyer, 14 Pat Howard, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Ed Jackson, 7 Ollie Griffiths, 6 Lewis Evans (c), 5 Rynard Landman, 4 Nick Crosswell, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Rhys Buckley, 1 Sam Hobbs
Replacements: 16 Darran Harris, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Craig Mitchell, 19 Cory Hill, 20 James Thomas, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Adam Warren

Munster: 15 Andrew Conway, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Dan Goggin, 11 Ronan O'Mahony, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Jack O'Donoghue, 6 Billy Holland (c), 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 James Cronin
Replacements: 16 Duncan Casey, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Brian Scott, 19 Dave O'Callaghan, 20 Conor Oliver, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Colm O'Shea

Date: Saturday, September 17
Venue: Rodney Parade
Kick-off: 17:15 BST (16:15 GMT)
Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Claudio Blessano (Italy), Rob Price (Wales)
TMO: Stefano Penne (Italy)

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