8:01am Thursday 26th September 2013
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons have brought a smile to the face of Wales coach Shaun Edwards with their tenacity in defence.
The Rodney Parade region have made a promising start to the season with hard-earned wins against Ulster and the Scarlets and a narrow loss to Edinburgh at Murrayfield.
They seem to have a harder edge and more resolve, an impression that is backed up by statistics.
In 2012/13 they had the worst defensive record in the RaboDirect Pro12, shipping 589 points (average of 27 per game) and having their line crossed 72 times (average of three per game).
Their three fixtures so far have seen them concede 40 points and three tries while the Ulster and Scarlets wins were secured by spirited defensive stands on their own line.
Edwards is a notoriously hard taskmaster and his aggressive defensive style has helped win three Six Nations title, two Grand Slams, two Heineken Cups, a European Challenge Cup, two Aviva Premiership wins and an Anglo-Welsh Cup triumph.
And the 46-year-old believes the summer arrival of director of rugby Lyn Jones has given the region added steel.
"The Dragons will be tough this season and it's good to see," said Edwards. "Lyn's goal will be that no side coming up against them will have an easy time.
"When we won the Grand Slam in 2008 a lot was made of the defence but most of those guys were very well coached before they came to me.
"We had a lot of Ospreys in the team and what they achieved with Wales is an indictment of the work that people like Lyn had put in and what a quality coach he is."
The region finished one from bottom of the Pro12 last season after winning just six games. The season is young but they have already won two fixtures to sit fourth ahead of this weekend's game in Munster.
"It's no surprise that the Dragons are improving, I thought that they would as soon as I saw Lyn come in," Edwards added.
"Every team that he has coached has had something about them, just look at London Welsh last season when they nearly pulled off a miracle by staying in the Aviva Premiership.
"I've got a lot of respect for Lyn and I like the way he goes about things. He says things as they are and there has been an improvement wherever he has been."
Edwards was speaking at the announcement of Wooden Spoon, the children's charity of rugby, as the official charity partner for Rugby League World Cup 2013. To find out more about the charity visit woodenspoon.com.
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