Preview: Dragons v Ulster

Date published: September 29 2011

Ulster have made three personnel and one positional change to their starting XV for their PRO12 clash with Dragons on Friday.

Ulster have made three personnel and one positional change to their starting XV for their RaboDirect PRO12 clash with Dragons on Friday.

The Ulster lost their 100 percent wining record last week when they were beaten 32-14 by Ospreys and Brian McLaughlin will be hoping his men get back on track against a struggling Dragons outfit.

Full-back Jared Payne picked up a dead leg in the loss to Ospreys and Adam D'Arcy comes off the bench to replace him. Ian Humphreys (shoulder) and Darren Cave (hamstring) remain sidelined so Paddy Jackson and Luke Marshall continue at fly-half and outside centre respectively.

In the pack, hooker Andi Kyriacou drops down to the bench with Nigel Brady taking over the number two jersey. Willie Faloon has been named at openside flanker, with Chris Henry switching to number eight in place of Robbie Diack.

Meanwhile, Dragons have included two uncapped players in their squad.

Former Springbok wing Tonderai Chavhanga is included in the starting XV while tighthead prop Kieron Jenkins is named on the bench. Pontypool back Geraint O'Driscoll, who made his debut against Connacht last week, is also named as one of the replacements.

“It's been great to finally have Tondi in our ranks,” Dragons Head Coach Darren Edwards told the team's official website.

“It's been a long process to get him here but the buzz he has created in the team is really encouraging. Not only does he have a speed that is well-documented but he has a great understanding of the game which will stand him in good stead.

“He is also very hard-working and has fitted into the team really well. Our dressing room cohesion is a vital part of rugby at the Dragons and Chavhanga will certainly add to that.”

The injuries woes in the pack have forced Edwards to rope in rookie Jenkins.

“The injury problems in the front row, particularly at tighthead have given us a chance to bring in a couple of Premiership players this week to train with the region, and boost their own experience,” he said.

“As a region we want to concentrate on developing Welsh players both through our age-grade set-up but also through the Premiership.”

Form: Newport Gwent Dragons have won just once in the RaboDirect PRO12 this season: 23-14 at home to Aironi in round three. The Dragons' only reversal at Rodney Parade in their last five matches in this tournament was 13-20 to today's opponents Ulster on 6 May. Ulster's 100% winning start to the RaboDirect PRO12 ended abruptly on Sunday at Ospreys. Ulster visit Wales for a
second successive week and have won on two of their last three visits to the Principality. Dragons are winless against Ulster since their 23-6 victory at Rodney Parade on 6 September 2009. Ulster have won three of their eight previous visits to Rodney Parade in the history of this tournament.

The teams:

Dragons: Dragons: 15 Martyn Thomas, 14 Tonderai Chavhanga, 13 Tom Riley, 12 Ashley Smith, 11 Mike Poole, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Wayne Evans, 8 Andrew Coombs, 7 Gavin Thomas, 6 Lewis Evans, 5 Rob Sidoli, 4 Adam Jones, 3 Nathan Buck, 2 Tom Willis (capt), 1 Nathan Williams.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Buckley, 17 Phil Price, 18 Kieron Jenkins, 19 Darren Waters, 20 Jevon Groves, 21 Joe Bedford, 22 Geraint O'Driscoll, 23 Matthew Jones.

Ulster: 15 Adam D'Arcy, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Nevin Spence, 11 Ian Whitten, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Chris Henry, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 Pedrie Wannenburg, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Lewis Stevenson, 3 Jerry Cronin, 2 Nigel Brady, 1 Declan Fitzpatrick.
Replacements: 16 Andi Kyriacou, 17 Kyle McCall, 18 Adam Macklin, 19 T Barker, 20 Robbie Diack, 21 Ian Porter, 22 James McKinney, 23 Conor Gaston

Date: Friday, September 30
Venue: Rodney Parade
Kick-off: 19:05 (18:05 GMT)