Preview: Dragons v Leinster

Date published: February 23 2017

The Dragons have made just two alterations to their starting line-up for their PRO12 match against Leinster at Rodney Parade on Friday.

The first change is full-back Carl Meyer’s return to the back three alongside wings Adam Hughes and Pat Howard. The second seess Jack Dixon joins Tyler Morgan in the centre partnership, with scrum-half Dorian Jones and Tavis Knoyle remaining in the side.

“I’ve had a few good performances and some I’ve been a bit frustrated with,” said Dixon ahead of the game.

“I feel like I’m picking up a bit of form again and looking forward to the weekend.

“Where I am now, I just want to get as much game time with the Dragons as I can and put in some good performances, and then reassess at the end of the season.”

Looking forward to Friday’s clash, Dixon added: “Whoever Leinster put out they are a quality team. It’s going to be a big challenge but we’re looking forward to it.

“We’ve got a good home record this season and we’re confident on our own patch. Results haven’t really gone our way the last couple of weeks but we’re still confident.

“Leinster are coming over and we’re looking to put in a big performance.”

There is continuity in the forwards selection as no changes have been made following the defeat against Connacht last weekend.

Three changes on the replacements bench see Rhys Buckley, Matthew Screech and Adam Warren join Thomas Davies, Lloyd Fairbrother, Harrison Keddie, Sarel Pretorius and Angus O’Brien.

Meanwhile, Leinster head coach Leo Cullen welcomes the return of Irish internationals Fergus McFadden and Rhys Ruddock to his XV while Ed Byrne is also in line to make his long awaited return after over two years out through injury.

Last Friday’s game against Edinburgh saw Leinster finishing the game with 14 so it is no surprise to see four changes in the backs – plus two positional switches – and a further four changes in the pack.

Joey Carbery starts his first game for Leinster at full-back but he has played there a number of times during games already this season most recently against both Treviso and Edinburgh.

Adam Byrne starts on the right wing looking to add to his tally of nine tries in all competitions this season. On the left wing McFadden is back for his first game since Cardiff Blues in October. Injury has restricted the Kildare man to only two games in total all season.

It’s a new centre combination this week with Noel Reid and Zane Kirchner at 12 and 13 respectively.

A day after his 25th birthday Jamison Gibson-Park picks up cap number 21 at scrum-half while outside him Ross Byrne plays in the ten jersey.

In the pack Peter Dooley again lines up at loosehead prop with Richardt Strauss back to captain the side from hooker and Michael Bent to his right at tighthead for his 80th Leinster cap.

It’s as you were in the second-row with Ross Molony and Mike McCarthy again leading the Leinster charge from the engine room.

Behind Molony and McCarthy, Ruddock returns from a quad injury to start at blindside flanker while Peadar Timmins will make his first start for Leinster at openside having made five appearances off the bench to date.

Finally Jack Conan will scrum down at number eight.

The teams:

Dragons: 15 Carl Meyer, 14 Adam Hughes, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Pat Howard, 10 Dorian Jones, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 8 Lewis Evans (c), 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Ollie Griffiths, 5 Rynard Landman, 4 Nick Crosswell, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Sam Hobbs
Replacements: 16 Rhys Buckley, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Harrison Keddie, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Adam Warren

Leinster: 15 Joey Carbery, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Zane Kirchner, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Fergus McFadden, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Peadar Timmins, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Michael Bent, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Peter Dooley
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Mike Ross, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Max Deegan, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Cathal Marsh, 23 Barry Daly

Date: Friday, February 24
Venue: Rodney Parade
Kick-off: 19:30 GMT
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Claudio Blessano (Italy), Craig Evans
TMO: Stefano Pennè (Italy)