8:52am Friday 20th September 2013
PHIL Price, Rhys Thomas and Francisco Chaparro will be under close scrutiny this evening after being handed starts in Newport Gwent Dragons' front row against the Scarlets (kick-off 7.15pm).
The Rodney Parade region's scrum has struggled so far this term with Bath in pre-season and both Ulster and Edinburgh in the RaboDirect Pro12 enjoying set piece supremacy.
Meanwhile the Scarlets, with veteran loosehead Phil John to the fore, overcame Treviso last week by demolishing the Italians up front.
The Dragons have been put through the wringer by the coaching staff this week in order to try and sort out a key facet of the game with loosehead Price, hooker Thomas and tighthead Chaparro given starting roles.
"If the front five play well and get the upper hand then I think we will win," said flanker Lewis Evans.
"Our scrum has been a bit disappointing so far but Jabba (set piece coach Steve Jones) has been working us hard this week. Getting that sorted will get us on the front foot, over the gain line and into the game.
"The Scarlets will target us there and I don't blame them because we have had two games where we have been dominated, there's no hiding from that."
The visitors give a first start of the season to Lions star Jonathan Davies and hand a debut to Scotland openside flanker John Barclay but it's 20-year-old tighthead Samson Lee that has caught the eye of director of rugby Lyn Jones.
"I've been impressed with Samson Lee over the past few years and it will be an interesting contest," said the director of rugby.
"I commentated on the game in Llanelli last year when the Scarlets scrum overpowered the Dragons scrum so our boys have lots of points to prove.
"If Samson Lee plays well, Jonathan Davies will play well and the Scarlets need front-foot ball to stress our defensive structure.
"We need to make sure Samson has his hands full, that will be tough but it's what we've got to try and achieve."
The Dragons make seven changes to the side that lost 16-13 to Edinburgh with the last kick of the game.
Captain Andrew Coombs has overcome an ankle injury to return at lock while Lions ace Toby Faletau returns to the back row along with Jevon Groves.
Argentina international Chaparro and Price are promoted from the bench while Tom Prydie and Ross Wardle come in on the wing and outside centre respectively.
Dragons: D Evans, T Prydie, R Wardle, J Dixon, H Amos, J Tovey, R Rees, P Price, R Thomas, F Chaparro, A Coombs (captain), M Screech, J Groves, L Evans, T Faletau: Replacements: H Gustafson, O Evans, D Way, R Sidoli, N Talei, J Evans, K Burton, A Hughes.
Scarlets: S Shingler, L Williams, J Davies, S Williams, J Williams, R Priestland, G Davies, P John, K Owens, S Lee, J Ball, G Earle, A Shingler, J Barclay, R McCusker (captain). Replacements: E Phillips, R Evans, J Adriaanse, R Kelly, J Turnbull, A Davies, N Reynolds, G Owen.
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