Preview: Dragons v Ospreys

Date published: December 30 2016

The Dragons take on the Ospreys on New Year's Day at Rodney Parade, in the second of their festive fixtures.

With a winning streak of five from five, across all competitions, at Rodney Parade the Men of Gwent will look to continue their fine home form on New Year's Day.

Dragons Head Coach Kingsley Jones has made six changes to the team that took on Cardiff Blues on Boxing Day. These changes include the return of full-back Carl Meyer, who came off the bench last weekend, who has recovered from injury.

He joins wingers Pat Howard and last weekend's try scorer Ashton Hewitt. The centre partnership sees Welsh international Tyler Morgan joined by Sam Beard. Angus O'Brien retains his position as fly-half as does scrum-half Tavis Knoyle.

The front row is all change as loose head Phil Price, who made his 150th appearance for the Men of Gwent against Worcester Warriors, is named alongside hooker Elliot Dee and tighthead prop Brok Harris.

The second-row has one change made to it as Nick Crosswell joins Welsh International Cory Hill, and there are no changes made to the back row with skipper Lewis Evans retaining his position alongside flanker Ollie Griffiths and number eight Ed Jackson.

There are six changes made to the replacements bench as Rhys Buckley, Sam Hobbs, Lloyd Fairbrother, Rynard Landman, Dorian Jones and Adam Warren join Matthew Screech and Sarel Pretorius.

Meanwhile for Ospreys, Paul James makes his 210th Ospreys appearance and moves ahead of Andrew Bishop to go second in the all-time appearance list.

Dan Biggar makes his 196th Ospreys appearance and moves ahead of Adam Jones to go fifth in the all-time appearance list.

Head Coach, Steve Tandy, commented: “The Scarlets match was a typical derby, very physical, maybe not too easy on the eye, but tight and extremely competitive. It was good to see that we were able to keep our discipline and focus, and we put in a second half performance that ensured we took the win on the day.

"It was good to show that we can slug it out and win ugly. We aren’t just about scoring tries, we pride ourselves on defence and that side of our game was spot on against the Scarlets.

“We can expect more of the same at Rodney Parade, the Dragons have been in decent shape and always provide a challenge. There’ll be a big crowd and an atmosphere to match so it’ll be another real test for us as a group."

Form: Dragons last six matches in the PRO12 have all gone in favour of the home side, whilst Dragons have won their last five matches at Rodney Parade in all competitions since Glasgow were the visitors in round 5 of the PRO12. Dragons have won just one of their last 18 clashes against fellow Welsh regions in the PRO12: 23-17 away at Cardiff Blues on Boxing Day 2014. Ospreys have suffered just one reversal in the last six rounds of the PRO12 – to Munster in Cork in November. Ospreys have lost just one of their last dozen inter-region matches: to Scarlets at Liberty Stadium in March. The Swansea based side have won their last ten matches against Dragons since their opponents from the east won by a single point at Rodney Parade in January 2012.

The teams:

Dragons: 15 Carl Meyer, 14 Pat Howard, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Sam Beard, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 Angus O'Brien, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 8 Ed Jackson, 7 Ollie Griffiths, 6 Lewis Evans (c), 5 Cory Hill, 4 Nick Crosswell, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Phil Price
Replacements: 16 Rhys Buckley, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Rynard Landman, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Dorian Jones, 23 Adam Warren

Ospreys: 15 Sam Davies, 14 Dafydd Howells, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Dan Evans, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tom Habberfield, 8 James King, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Lloyd Ashley, 3 Ma’afu Fia, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Paul James
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Dan Baker, 21 Sam Underhill, 22 Brendon Leonard, 23 Hanno Dirksen 

Date: Sunday, January 1 
Venue: Rodney Parade
Time: 17:05 local
Referee: Ian Davies (WRU) 
Assistant Referees: Simon Rees, Gwyn Morris (both WRU)
TMO: Neil Hennessy (WRU)

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