Preview: Dragons v Zebre

Date published: December 19 2014

The Dragons will be keen to pick up their first win of the season when they host Zebre at Rodney Parade on Friday night.

The Welsh region went down 29-23 in an entertaining opening encounter at Connacht, while Zebre were hammered 61-13 in Cardiff.

Tyler Morgan will start for the Dragons for the first time this season, having come off the bench in Connacht last time out.

The recently capped international is one of four personnel changes and one positional adjustment to the team.

Versatile back Tom Prydie is moved from wing to full-back for this match. He is joined in the back three by wingers Ashton Hewitt and Nick Scott. The centre pairing takes on a new shape as Morgan joins newcomer Adam Warren, who retains his place from last week. Fly-half Jason Tovey keeps his number 10 jersey with Sarel Pretorius joining him as scrum-half.

The front row has one change made to it as prop Boris Stankovich is joined by Brok Harris; skipper Thomas Rhys Thomas retains his place as hooker. The second row partnership remains unchanged as Rynard Landman and Cory Hill get the nod.  The back row has one change to it as flanker Lewis Evans joins Nic Cudd and number eight Ed Jackson.

Newport Gwent Dragons assistant coach Shaun Connor, commented on the inclusion of Tyler Morgan in the team: "He has been excellent since he has come back and seems to have matured over the summer from training with better players and picking things up off them in the Welsh squad."

Meanwhile Zebre have made four changes from the team that was thrashed against the Cardiff Blues, as Gianluca Guidi turns to some of the more experienced members of his squad.

Marco Bortolami comes into the second row, while in the backs there are starts for Matteo Pratichetti, Dion Berryman and Ulrich Beyers.

Deprived of their World Cup players, Zebre are still very much understrength, with seven loan players involved in their matchday squad.

Form: Newport Gwent Dragons' only victory in their last four Guinness PRO12 encounters was 19-5 at home to Edinburgh on 8th May, whilst they have won their last four matches at Rodney Parade in all tournaments.
Zebre have been defeated in their last seven fixtures since beating the Dragons 23-17 in Parma in March.
The two sides have met on six previous occasions with the Welshmen having the edge by four wins to one and one draw, although the last three encounters have been evenly shared with a win apiece and a tie.

The teams:

Dragons: 15 Tom Prydie, 14 Ashton Hewitt, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Adam Warren, 11 Nick Scott, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Ed Jackson, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Lewis Evans, 5 Rynard Landman, 4 Cory Hill, 3 Brok Harris, 2 T Rhys Thomas, 1 Boris Stankovich
Replacements: 16 Hugh Gustafson, 17 Phil Price, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 James Thomas, 20 James Benjamin, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Dorian Jones, 23  Carl Meyer

Zebre: 15 Dion Berryman, 14 Gabriele Di Giulio, 13 Tommaso Castello, 12 Matteo Pratichetti, 11 Michele Visentin, 10 Ulrich Beyers, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 7 Maxime Mbandà, 6 Paul Derbyshire, 5 George Biagi (c), 4 Marco Bortolami, 3 Pietro Ceccarelli, 2 Tommaso D'Apice, 1 Bruno Postiglioni
Replacements: 16 Oliviero Fabiani, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Emiliano Coria, 19 Michele Sutto, 20 Emiliano Caffini, 21 Fabio Semenzato, 22 Mattia Bellini, 23 Maicol Azzolini

Date: Friday, 11 September
Venue: Rodney Parade, Newport
Kick-off: 19:05 local
Referee: Lloyd Linton (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Sean Brickell, Simon Rees (both Wales)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)