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Preview: Dragons v Ospreys

05th January 2012 12:55

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Aled Brew Dragons v Scarlets 2011

Aled Brew: Replaces Adam Hughes in midfield

The Dragons have named Aled Brew at outside centre for their PRO12 derby with the Ospreys at Rodney Parade on Friday.

Brew's move from wing is brought about by the absence of centre Adam Hughes, following the ankle injury he sustained in last week's fixture against the Scarlets, and now Andy Tuilagi through illness.

Dragons coach Darren Edwards said the positional change was carefully thought out.

"Aled Brew's move to 13 from the wing will be a challenge for him but getting the ball to our fastest players has to be a priority and Aled is proven to be a devastating strike runner," he said.

"With Tonderai (Chavhanga) and Will (Harries) on the wings, there are plenty of options out wide," added Edwards.

The Dragons will be captained by blind side flanker Danny Lydiate, who will lead the side for the first time on Friday night.

Edwards was confident that Lydiate was up to the challenge.

"We have seen him grow within the Dragons environment over the last few seasons and the extra experience he has gained through the World Cup has certainly put him in good stead to lead the side today," he explained.

Centre Ashley Smith returns to the Dragons back-line at inside centre in place of Lewis Robling whilst Jason Tovey has recovered from the knee injury which forced him off during the Scarlets game to take his place at fly half.

In the pack, the only change is at open side flanker where the injured Gavin Thomas is replaced by recent Welsh squad member Lewis Evans who is due to make his 50th PRO12 appearance.

Meanwhile, second placed Ospreys will be keen to consolidate their play-off place with a win over at Rodney Parade on Friday.

Ospreys however have only won once at the venue since the Regions were formed in 2003.

This is the last round of the PRO12 before the start of the Six Nations and Ospreys coach Sean Holley is keen to go into the break with the away victory.

"It's always difficult when you go to the Dragons and no doubt in the build up to the game people will point to our record there in recent years but we can't afford to dwell on things like that.

"This is another day and another group of players, and we will go there believing in our ability to follow up the win over the Blues with another improved performance.

"We go there with the best defence record in the PRO12 and we are very proud of that fact.

"We need to make sure that we play the game on our terms on Friday night, not theirs, we need to know our roles and improve our accuracy.

"We have to make sure we don't give away cheap early points as we have done in some of our recent games to ensure that we can stay in the game long enough to impose ourselves on them, allowing us to fashion the kind of performance that you need when you go places like there.

"We have a good squad with plenty of depth, results this year have shown us that we can put a lot of trust into the squad, and with three games in twelve days we've had to utilise the squad fully.

"We've picked what we feel is the right side for the particular challenge that the Dragons provide, combined with the fixture demands, and it'll be a 23-man effort just as it was against the Blues on New Year's Day.

"If we show the same resolve and spirit that we did to secure that win, but improve the individual aspects of the game where we didn't reach the standards expected, then we'll be in a good place," he added.

Form: The Dragons most recent success in the RaboDirect PRO12 came at home to Ulster on 30 September. The Men of Gwent have lost all three fixtures against fellow Welsh Regions this season. Ospreys' three game losing run came to a halt at home to Cardiff Blues on New Year's Day. Their only away win in their last six trips was 17-6 against Connacht in Galway in the RaboDirect PRO12 on 26 November. The Swansea based outfit have not beaten a Welsh rival on their own soil since they visited Scarlets on 2 October 2010. Ospreys solo win in their last four encounters with Dragons was 42-10 at Liberty Stadium on 7 May 2010, whilst Ospreys have won just once at Rodney Parade in nine visits since the region was formed: 27-13 on 8 May 2007.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Newport Gwent Dragons: 15 Martyn Thomas, 14 Will Harries, 13 Aled Brew, 12 Ashley Smith, 11 Tonderai Chavhanga, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Wayne Evans, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Lewis Evans, 6 Danny Lydiate (c), 5 Rob Sidoli, 4 Adam Jones, 3 Nathan Buck, 2 Lloyd Burns, 1 Nathan Williams.
Replacements: 16 Steve Jones, 17 Phil Price, 18 Dan Way, 19 Jevon Groves, 20 Darren Waters, 21 Joe Bedford, 22 Lewis Robling, 23 Matthew Jones.

Ospreys: 15 Barry Davies, 14 Eli Walker, 13 Tom Isaacs, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Hanno Dirksen, 10 Matthew Morgan, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Joe Bearman, 7 Justin Tipuric (c), 6 Tom Smith, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Ryan Jones, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Huw Bennett, 1 Duncan Jones.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Paul James, 18 Adam Jones, 19 Jonathan Thomas, 20 George Stowers, 21 Kahn Fotuali'i, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Tommy Bowe.

Date: Friday 6 January
Venue: Rodney Parade
Kick-off: 19.05 GMT
Referee: James Jones
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris, Wayne Davies
TMO: Gareth Simmonds

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1Leinster622
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3Castres69
4Ospreys65