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Preview: Ospreys v Dragons

19th April 2012 12:32

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Shane Williams 1024

Farewell match: Shane Williams

The Ospreys will be aiming to take a step closer to a home play-off in Friday's Pro12 clash with the Dragons at Liberty Stadium.

The fixture is Ospreys' last home game of the regular season and will also serve as a farewell game for Welsh legend Shane Williams.

Ashley Beck will win his 50th Ospreys cap if he comes off the bench.

"We're expecting the Dragons to come down really fired up for this, as they always are when they play against us," said Ospreys forwards coach Jonathan Humphreys.

"They always provide a big challenge and it'll be up to us to stand up to them, something we've not always been capable of doing when we've played them, at home or away.

"Thanks to some good results and decent performances lately we're in a fairly good place. We're second in the league with two to play so the home semi is in our own hands but I think there's a lot more to come from this team and we have to find the right level if we are going to achieve the aim.

"The Dragons will bring a strong, competitive pack to the Liberty, and that's an area where we were dominant last week so it should be an interesting battle. It'll be tough but we'll do our homework, prepare properly and the guys will go out knowing exactly what's expected of them.

"There's going to be a big crowd which is fantastic. It's great for the Ospreys and it's great for Shane that so many people want to come and say farewell to him. It's an indication of the esteem he's held in by the local community. It'll definitely give the boys a big lift to run out in front of so many fans. With the biggest crowd of the season present it'll be doubly important that we show the right attitude and desire so that we don't disappoint them. We want to see them at the Liberty regularly next season and the way to do that is put on a performance that they can be proud of."

Meanwhile, Dragons have made five changes to their side.

17-year-old Hallam Amos will make his first Pro12 start at full-back in place of Will Harries who went off injured last week. It will be Hallam's second start for the Dragons after playing in the LV= Cup victory away at London Wasps earlier in the season.

At the other end of the experience scale, Luke Charteris is denied making his 100th RaboDirect PRO12 appearance after pulling out on Friday. He is replaced by Rob Sidoli.

The other change in the backs comes at scrum half where Wayne Evans starts in place of Joe Bedford.

There are two other changes in the pack, Steve Jones replaces Sam Parry at hooker and Jevon Groves starts at lock.

Pat Leach is named on the bench and could be in line to make his first appearance since breaking his hand in the match between these sides in the LV= Cup match at the Brewery Field in January.

Form: Ospreys have won their last three games since their 20-26 home defeat to Glasgow on 2 March; that loss was the Welshmen's only one in their last six home encounters. Ospreys have lost just once at home to a fellow Welsh region since 2007: 16-21 to the Dragons on 30 October 2010. Newport Gwent Dragons have lost their last two matches in the RaboDirect PRO12 at home to Connacht and Treviso, but have won their last two away games at Aironi and Edinburgh. Dragons have been victorious in their last three matches against Ospreys, including a first ever win at Liberty Stadium in October 2010.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Ospreys: 15 Ross Jones, 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 Tom Isaacs, 12 Andrew Bishop, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Joe Bearman, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Ryan Jones, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Ryan Bevington.
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Paul James, 18 Joe Rees, 19 James King, 20 Tom Smith, 21 Kahn Fotuali'i, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Ashley Beck.

Dragons: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Tonderai Chavhanga, 13 Adam Hughes, 12 Ashley Smith, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Lewis Robling, 9 Wayne Evans, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Lewis Evans, 6 Danny Lydiate, 5 Jevon Groves, 4 Rob Sidoli (c), 3 Nathan Buck, 2 Steve Jones, 1 Nathan Williams.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Phil Price, 18 Dan Way, 19 Andrew Coombs, 20 Tom Brown, 21 Joe Bedford, 22 Martyn Thomas, 23 Pat Leach.

Date: Friday, 20 April
Venue: Liberty Stadium
Kick-off: 19.05 BST (18.05 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens

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  • Table
Pool 5
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Racing Metro Paris28
2Northampton25
3Ospreys25
4Treviso20