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Preview: Ospreys v Dragons

21st March 2013 12:47

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Dan Biggar Ospreys

Back at the Liberty: Dan Biggar

The Ospreys welcome back a handful or Wales internationals for Friday's PRO12 Welsh derby with the Dragons at Liberty Stadium.

"It's great to be back at the Liberty Stadium on Friday night, for a big Welsh derby, and to welcome home our international boys after they did so well in the Six Nations," said Head Coach Steve Tandy.

"Last season, they came back to us off the back of a Grand Slam and provided the impetus to build on the work done by the core group while they were away that allowed us to kick on and win the league. Having won the Six Nations again thanks to a great victory against England on Saturday we'll be looking for the boys to have a similar impact this time.

"We've got a lot of work still to do if we are going to secure a place in the top four but what is really pleasing is the attitude of the boys coming back. I spoke to them all after Saturday and everyone of them wanted to be involved in this game, they couldn't wait to get back to their region, with their team-mates, and roll their sleeves up for the cause.

"It's going to be tough, on Friday night and over the next five games. We aren't going to worry about who else does what over the coming weeks, we'll just focus on our own game, control what we can, and make sure that everybody gives what they can. If we are well prepared, focused on the job in hand and get the performance level where it needs to be then we believe in ourselves to get the job done."

Meanwhile, Ross Wardle makes his RaboDirect Pro 12 debut on the wing for Dragons.

The 21-year-old made a dream debut in Dragons colours against Bath at the Recreational Ground in their opening LV Cup clash of the season. Wardle who is 21, is currently studying a pharmacy degree at Cardiff University and has recently signed a one year deal with the regional side for the 2013/14 season.

"I am very excited to be involved this weekend. Obviously since the LV Cup game which went well. I have been in and out of games with injury, so it's come as a bit of shock for me really," said

"Obviously against local rivals, I will be able to put up a good performance and show people what I can do and I can play regularly in the squad and the Dragons progress."

The men of Gwent have also made changes in the back three, with international star Dan Lydiate who returns from his long term injury to make his Newport Gwent Dragons comeback as blindside flanker whilst skipper Lewis Evans moves to the number eight shirt. Andrew Coombs returns the regional team and he takes up a position in the second row.

As for the bench we also see the return of Welsh international Toby Faletau, who is joined by Will Harries.

Form: Ospreys have won just one of their last three RaboDirect PRO12 encounters: 24-7 at home to Edinburgh in round 16. The Welshmen have won their last seven PRO12 contests at Liberty Stadium since Glasgow won there, 28-10, on 14 September. Ospreys have not lost a PRO12 game to a fellow Welsh region since they visited Newport on 6 January 2012, and slipped up 20-21. Dragons' last three games in the tournament have strangely all been won by the away side! Dragons have won their last two away matches in all competitions but have not won three in a row on the road since October 2004. The Men from Gwent have lost their last five PRO12 encounters against fellow Welsh regions. The two sides have already met twice at Rodney Parade this season with Ospreys winning 14-3 in the RaboDirect PRO12 on New Year's Eve and Dragons taking the Anglo-Welsh Cup tie 18-14 on 26 January. Dragons' only previous victory at Liberty Stadium was 21-16 on 30 October 2010.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Tom Habberfield, 13 Jonathan Spratt, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Tom Isaacs, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Jonathan Thomas, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 James King, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Ryan Bevington.
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 Lloyd Peers, 20 George Stowers, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Ben John.

Dragons: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Adam Hughes, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Ross Wardle, 10 Steffan Jones, 9 Wayne Evans; 8 Lewis Evans (c), 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Adam Jones, 4 Andrew Coombs, 3 Nathan Buck, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Owen Evans.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Gustafson, 17 Phil Price, 18 Dan Way, 19 Ian Nimmo, 20 Toby Faletau, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Will Harries, 23 Hallam Amos.

Date: Friday, 22 March
Venue: Liberty Stadium
Kick-off: 19.05 GMT
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)

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PosTeamPPts
1Leinster622
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3Castres69
4Ospreys65