Planet Rugby

Preview: Dragons v Ospreys

18th April 2014 12:51

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In-form: Dan Biggar

Experienced Italy fly-half Kris Burton makes his 14th Dragons start of the season in Sunday's crunch PRO12 derby with the Ospreys.

The 33-year-old returns to the starting line-up after coming on last weekend against Treviso and replacing fellow fly-half Jason Tovey.

He will line up in the half-backs alongside Welsh international Richie Rees, who has moved from the bench to take up his place as scrum-half. The internationals are joined in the backs by the centre pairing of Pat Leach and Welsh U20 star Jack Dixon.

Director of Rugby Lyn Jones has made one change and one positional change to the back three, as Hallam Amos moves from blindside wing to full-back, and fellow international Tom Prydie retains his place on the right wing and Will Harries moves from the bench to cover left wing.

The front-row has one change made to it as international hooker T. Rhys Thomas returns from injury to play alongside Phil Price and tighthead prop Duncan Bell. Skipper Andrew Coombs has been named in the second-row alongside young gun Matthew Screech.

The back-row sees Netani Talei and Lewis Evans named as flankers and British and Irish Lion Taulupe Faletau at number eight.

There have been five changes made to the replacements as Sam Parry, Owen Evans, Bruce Douglas are joined by Cory Hill, Nic Cudd, Jonathan Evans, Jason Tovey and Wales U20 player Tyler Morgan.

"This is a great opportunity to get back to the standards of the start of the season and to demonstrate how good we can be. The Ospreys have a lot of very good players and it's down to the players to respond against the best Welsh region," said Lyn Jones.

"There is so much good about our game but we gifted Treviso 45 points last weekend and there is a culture here that when you go behind that's it.

"We have been working hard all season to change that but have slipped back into having negative thoughts recently and that's not good enough.

"We need to change the way that people go about their business."

Meanwhile, British and Irish Lion Alun Wyn Jones skippers the Ospreys in a fascinating second-row duel with fellow Wales international and opposing captain Andrew Coombs.

Veteran tighthead Adam Jones is benched in favour of Aaron Jarvis, who played well in last week's win over Leinster, while Justin Tipuric continues to play through the shoulder problem that may rule him out of Wales' tour to South Africa in June.

Points machine Dan Biggar retains his fly-half berth, and is partnered at scrum-half by Tom Habberfield. Flyers Richard Fussell and Jeff Hassler are joined in the back-three by Hanno Dirksen on the left wing.

Form: Dragons are without a win in their last five matches since their defeat of Glasgow in the PRO12 at Rodney Parade on 23rd February.

Dragons have played only once at Millenniums Stadium before, losing 20-28 to Scarlets in last season's double header.

Ospreys have won two of their last three matches and have been victorious in their last thirteen PRO12 encounters against fellow Welsh Regions.

Ospreys have won on all three occasion they have visited Millennium Stadium, twice in Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-finals and 23-16 over Cardiff Blues in this event last year.

Ospreys have won their last four PRO12 encounters with Dragons since the Men from Gwent's 22-20 victory at Rodney Parade in January 2012.

The teams:

Dragons: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Will Harries, 10 Kris Burton, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Lewis Evans, 6 Netani Talei, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Andrew Coombs (c), 3 Duncan Bell, 2 T. Rhys Thomas, 1 Phil Price
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Bruce Douglas, 19 Cory Hill, 20 Nic Cudd, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Tyler Morgan

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Jonathan Spratt, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Hanno Dirksen, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tom Habberfield, 8 Dan Baker, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Joe Bearman, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Ryan Jones, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Duncan Jones
Replacements: 16 Scott Otten, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Adam Jones, 19 Tyler Ardron, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Tito Tebaldi, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Aisea Natoga

Date: Sunday 20th April
Venue: Millenium Stadium
Kick-off: 1645 (local & BST)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wal)
Assistant referees: Neil Hennessy, Jon Mason (both Wal)
TMO: Derek Bevan (Wal)

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