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Preview: Dragons v Ospreys

30th December 2012 13:57

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Tom Prydie

Tom Prydie: On the wing for Dragons

Dragons wing Tom Prydie returns to the starting XV for their New Year's Eve PRO12 derby with the Ospreys at Rodney Parade.

Prydie returns to the side after a knee injury kept him out of the Dragons first Welsh derby, against neighbours the Cardiff Blues on Boxing Day.

The only other changes in the side sees the inclusion of half back paring Lewis Robling and Jonathan Evans. Robling replaces fly-half Dan Evans who has not recovered from his ankle sprain in time to be considered for selection while Evans comes in for his namesake Wayne Evans who is amongst the replacements.

Meanwhile, the Ospreys have made three changes, including a positional switch, to their run-on side.

Amongst the backs, Tom Isaacs comes into the starting line-up for Ashley Beck who drops down to the bench. Isaacs will start at outside centre while Andrew Bishop, who played in that position in their Boxing Day win over the Scarlets, moves to inside centre.

Up front, Sam Lewis starts at openside flank in place of Justin Tipuric who is struggling with a shoulder injury and Lloyd Pears replaces Ian Gough in the second row.

Ospreys forwards coach Jonathan Humphreys said the side are keen to continue where they left off against the Scarlets.

"This period of three games in nine days is crucial for us and having won the first game, against the Scarlets, it really is vital that we keep on working hard as a group, looking to improve and to find the performance level that will get us into the play-off spots before the PRO12 goes into a break for Europe and the LV," he said.

"As a coaching group, yes we've got to be pleased with the win against the Scarlets, but there's still room for improvement.

"We showed great effort and commitment, good discipline and we played the game plan well but there were areas of the performance where we could have done better.

"With the quick turnaround and the nature of Christmas rugby here's not much time to prepare for this game but what time we have got will be used to ensure the boys are focused and know what is needed to raise the performance another level again.

"It's another tough week, with a difficult game in Newport followed by another tricky one at the Liberty against Zebre on Friday night.

"We have to make sure that everyone understands how important these games are to our PRO12 hopes, that we need to put top-level performances in, and if we do that, then we have a chance of getting the results we need.

"Having really enjoyed the atmosphere at the Liberty on Boxing Day, I'd love it if we could get another good crowd on Friday night.

"It was obvious how much the boys responded to such great support and we want the fans to keep on playing their part."

Form: The Dragons have won just one of their last six RaboDirect PRO12 contests: 14-3 at home to Connacht on 23 November.The Dragons have won their last two matches at Rodney Parade in all competitions. The Men from Gwent have been beaten on the last four occasions they have faced a fellow Welsh region. Ospreys' only defeat in their last eight PRO12 encounters was 13-23 to Edinburgh at Murrayfield on 23 November. Ospreys have not won away from home in any competition since a trip to Zebre in the PRO12 on 5 October. Ospreys have won their last six fixtures with fellow Welsh regions in all competitions. The last three clashes between the two sides in the PRO12 have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst the only occasion that Ospreys have ever been triumphant at Rodney Parade was with a 27-13 win on 8 May 2007.

The teams:

Dragons: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Will Harries, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Andy Tuilagi, 11 Tom Prydie, 10 Lewis Robling, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Lewis Evans (capt), 5 Rob Sidoli, 4 Andrew Coombs, 3 Dan Way, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Gustafson, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Nathan Buck, 19 Adam Jones, 20 Tom Brown, 21 Wayne Evans, 22 Steffan Jones, 23 Jack Dixon.

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Ross Jones, 13 Tom Isaacs, 12 Andrew Bishop, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i (capt), 8 Joe Bearman, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Ryan Jones, 5 James King, 4 Lloyd Peers, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Ryan Bevington.
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Cai Griffiths, 19 Jonathan Thomas, 20 Morgan Allen, 21 Rhys Webb/Tom Habberfield, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Ashley Beck.

Date: Monday, December 31
Kick-off: 16:15
Venue: Rodney Parade
Referee: tbc
Assistant referees: tbc
Television match official: tbc

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