Planet Rugby

Preview: Dragons v Edinburgh

27th September 2012 12:25

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Centre of attention: Ben Atiga

Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley has challenged his outfit to take another win away from Wales as the side travel to Newport to face the Dragons.

The club opened their competitive account with an away win over Cardiff at the re-inauguration of the old Arms Park, before a five-try win over Zebre.

Bonus points from the losses to Munster and Leinster keep the club mid-table ahead of their trip south to face the tenth-placed Welshmen, whose round one win over Zebre is their only success in the last eight games in the league.

However, despite their slow start, the Dragons have a formidable record against the men from Murrayfield, celebrating a home and away double last season, and keeping their visitors from an away win since 2006.

"This is a critical match," said Bradley.

"I've been satisfied with our performances so far this season but we must continue to improve if we are to fulfil our ambitions of making the play-offs, and that means winning away from home.

"There are no easy contests in this division, especially when you're on the road, and Dragons are notoriously difficult to break down.

"Their defensive approach is quick and aggressive and puts a lot of pressure on the opposition, so the fundamentals of our game will have to be very well executed.

"We will have to be sharp and clinical to make the most of any manufactured or opportunistic chances. It will be very tough game."

Bradley's team features seven changes to the side that started last week's narrow loss to Leinster at the RDS, with Scotland trio Ross Rennie, Allan Jacobsen and top try-scorer Tim Visser returning to the front-line.

Outbound are their international colleagues Greig Laidlaw, Ross Ford and Matt Scott, who have each been rested, with Bradley calling on quality replacements in their stead.

The front-row swaps one British Lion for another, as Andy Titterrell makes his first competitive start at hooker and former All Black centre Ben Atiga returns from a hip strain to operate at inside centre alongside Nick De Luca.

At pivot, 20-year-old Harry Leonard has the chance to recapture the form that saw him start three of last season's Heineken Cup pool matches, while lock Robert McAlpine completes the pack alongside Sean Cox, who takes on the captaincy from Laidlaw.

Meanwhile, Dragons forward Lewis Evans is set to lead the Men of Gwent at Rodney Parade this week. He is joined in the back-row by Dan Lydiate alongside Toby Faletau who is fit to be selected and start at number eight.

Jonathan Evans continues on as scrum-half after impressing in the Dragons previous games. In addition to this Adam Hughes will start on the wing for the Dragons in their starting line-up.

The same front five, who faced Munster at Thomond Park, will also be starting in this week's match.

Form: The Dragons have won just one of their last eight matches in the RaboDirect PRO12: 37-6 at home to new franchise Zebre on 31 August. Dragons are unbeaten in their last three games against Scottish opponents. Edinburgh tripped up at Leinster on Saturday to end a two-game winning run. The Scotsmen's solitary away victory in the competition since last November was 21-19 at Cardiff Blues on 7 September. The Dragons achieved the double over Edinburgh last season, whilst Edinburgh's only victory over the Men from Gwent since May 2009 came in April 2011. The Scotsmen's most recent victory at Rodney Parade was way back in May 2006.

The teams:

Dragons: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Adam Hughes, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Andy Tuilagi, 11 Tom Prydie, 10 Steffan Jones, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Lewis Evans (c), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Adam Jones, 4 Ian Nimmo, 3 Dan Way, 2 Steve Jones, 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Aaron Coundley, 18 Nathan Buck, 19 Jevon Groves, 20 Tom Brown, 21 Liam Davies, 22 Ashley Smith, 23 Will Harries.

Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Tom Brown, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Ben Atiga, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Harry Leonard, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Netani Talei, 7 Ross Rennie, 6 Stuart McInally, 5 Sean Cox (c), 4 Robert McAlpine, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Andy Titterrell, 1 Allan Jacobsen.
Replacements: 16 Alun Walker, 17 John Yapp, 18 Lewis Niven, 19 Dimitri Basilaia, 20 Roddy Grant, 21 Chris Leck, 22 John Houston, 23 Dougie Fife.

Date: Friday 28 September
Venue: Rodney Parade
Kick-off: 19:00
Referee: Johnny Lacey (Italy)
Assistant referees: James Jones (Wales), Simon Rees (Wales)

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