United Rugby Championship: Ross Moriarty to captain the Dragons against Benetton

Date published: January 27 2022 - Planet Rugby

There are two matches scheduled to take place on Friday in the inaugural United Rugby Championship season with Dragons and Ulster taking on Benetton and the Scarlets respectively.

Dragons v Benetton

Dragons director of rugby Dean Ryan makes nine changes as the Men of Gwent look to bounce back against the Italians at Rodney Parade on Friday, after their European loss out in Treviso.

Wales international Ross Moriarty returns to the Welsh region’s starting line-up for the first time since the autumn and captains the side after being released from the national squad this week.

Moriarty is joined in the back-row by flanker Ollie Griffiths, who returns following injury, and Harri Keddie, who wears the six jersey.

Prop Aki Seiuli starts at loosehead with Joe Davies and Joe Maksymiw partnering in the second-row. Adam Warren comes back into the side at centre to partner Aneurin Owen in midfield.

There will be a new-look back three at Rodney Parade with Jonah Holmes, Jordan Olowofela and full-back Josh Lewis all returning.

Meanwhile, fly-half Sam Davies hits a double milestone as he will make his 50th Dragons appearance and play 150th league match.

Among the replacements are Wales internationals Elliot Dee and Rhodri Williams, who both return from injury, while Fijian Mesake Doge is also back in the matchday squad.

Meanwhile, Benetton head coach Marco Bortolami has named a side which contains three debutants in their matchday squad.

In the back-line, Giacomo Da Re makes his bow for the men from Treviso and he is joined in the back three by wings Lorenzo Pani Tommaso Benvenuti while Joaquin Riera and Filippo Drago are the centre combination.

Experienced South African scrum-half Dewaldt Duvenage leads the team and forms the half-back partnership with Tomas Albornoz.

In the forwards, blindside flanker Matteo Meggiato is the other debutant in the run-on side and he is joined in the back-row by Lorenzo Cannone (number eight) and Marco Lazzaroni (openside flanker).

South African duo Carl Wegner and Irné Herbst pack down in the engine room while their countryman Corniel Els starts at hooker and Nahuel Tetaz and Thomas Gall are the two props.

Tommy Bell could also make his Benetton debut off the replacements bench.

The teams:

Dragons: 15 Josh Lewis, 14 Jonah Holmes, 13 Adam Warren, 12 Aneurin Owen, 11 Jordan Olowofela, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Ross Moriarty (c), 7 Ollie Griffiths, 6 Harri Keddie, 5 Joe Maksymiw, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Chris Coleman, 2 Taylor Davies, 1 Aki Seiuli
16 Elliot Dee, 17 Josh Reynolds, 18 Mesake Doge, 19 Huw Taylor, 20 Dan Baker, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Jared Rosser, 23 Ioan Davies

Benetton: 15 Giacomo Da Re, 14 Lorenzo Pani, 13 Filippo Drago, 12 Joaquin Riera, 11 Tommaso Benvenuti, 10 Tomas Albornoz, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage (c), 8 Lorenzo Cannone, 7 Marco Lazzaroni, 6 Matteo Meggiato, 5 Carl Wegner, 4 Irné Herbst, 3 Nahuel Tetaz, 2 Corniel Els, 1 Thomas Gallo
16 Hame Faiva, 17 Cherif Traore, 18 Filippo Alongi, 19 Nicola Piantella, 20 Braam Steyn, 21 Alessandro Garbisi, 22 Marco Zanon, 23 Tommy Bell

Venue: Rodney Parade
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)
Assistant Referees: Jason Bessant (WRU), John Darcy (WRU)
TMO: Jon Mason (WRU)

Ulster v Scarlets

Rob Lyttle is set to make his 50th appearance for Ulster, as he is named to start on the left wing alongside Ethan McIlroy who makes a positional switch to full-back, and Craig Gilroy who comes in on the right.

Angus Curtis retains his starting berth at inside centre, and partners Ben Moxham in the Ulster midfield. Nathan Doak and Billy Burns will form the half-back pairing.

John Andrew comes in to start at hooker, joining Eric O’Sullivan at loosehead and Marty Moore at tighthead prop. Sam Carter comes into the second-row to pair up with captain, Alan O’Connor. Greg Jones is selected at blindside flanker, while Marcus Rea makes a positional switch to openside. Duane Vermeulen completes the base of the pack.

Gareth Milasinovich has returned from his short-term loan to Saracens and is named on the bench with Brad Roberts, Jack McGrath, Mick Kearney and David McCann to provide the forward options. David Shanahan, Ian Madigan and Aaron Sexton are the backline replacements.

Meanwhile, Hooker Daf Hughes has been handed the captaincy of a much-changed Scarlets side for this encounter in Belfast.

Dwayne Peel takes a fresh-faced line-up to his old stamping ground with the starting XV showing seven changes from the team that took the field against Bristol last weekend.

Ryan Conbeer and Dane Blacker are the only survivors behind the scrum with injury and international calls impacting selection.

Ioan Nicholas starts at full-back with Conbeer and Tom Rogers named on the wings. Tyler Morgan partners Steff Hughes in midfield, while Dan Jones comes at fly-half to link up with Dane Blacker. Rhys Patchell misses out with a slight groin niggle.

Up front there is a first start of the season for Steff Thomas at loosehead prop and 26-year-old Llandovery product Hughes – who skippers the side for the first time – at hooker. Samson Lee provides the experience at tighthead. Sam Lousi and Morgan Jones continue their second-row partnership with Sione Kalamafoni, Carwyn Tuipulotu and Shaun Evans making up the back-row.

Aaron Shingler has overcome the back issue that forced him to withdraw late on from the Bears game and is named among the replacements.

The teams:

Ulster: 15 Ethan McIlroy, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Ben Moxham, 12 Angus Curtis, 11 Rob Lyttle, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Nathan Doak, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Marcus Rea, 6 Greg Jones, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Alan O’Connor (c), 3 Marty Moore, 2 John Andrew, 1 Eric O’Sullivan
16 Brad Roberts, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Gareth Milasinovich, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 David McCann, 21 David Shanahan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Aaron Sexton

Scarlets: 15 Ioan Nicholas, 14 Tom Rogers, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Steff Hughes, 11 Ryan Conbeer, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Dane Blacker, 8 Carwyn Tuipulotu, 7 Shaun Evans, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Morgan Jones, 4 Sam Lousi, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Daf Hughes (c), 1 Steff Thomas
16 Marc Jones, 17 Kemsley Mathias, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Josh Helps, 20 Aaron Shingler, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Sam Costelow, 23 Steff Evans

Venue: Kingspan Stadium
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Jaco Peyper (SARU)
Assistant Referees: Peter Marin (IRFU), Andrew Cole (IRFU)
TMO: Olly Hodges (IRFU)

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