Jonathan Evans determined to grasp his Dragons chance
8:42am Thursday 26th September 2013 in Sport
JONATHAN Evans admits that he has had mixed emotions about Newport Gwent Dragons' encouraging start to the season.
On one hand it has been a delight to be a member of a squad that caused a stir with RaboDirect Pro12 victories against Ulster and the Scarlets.
On the other the 21-year-old has been frustrated by playing second fiddle to scrum-half Richie Rees.
Evans bossed the number 9 jersey last season, missing just two LV= Cup games and being given a starting role for 21 of his 29 appearances.
But the summer arrival of Rees from Edinburgh has changed that - the 2012/13 player of the season has played just 37 minutes in cameos off the bench against Edinburgh and the Scarlets.
"It was a bit of a disappointment not to be in the starting line-up for the opener because I had a lot of game time last season," he said. "But in fairness to Richie has come in and played brilliantly.
"The Ulster game was hard because we won but I didn't get on the field. I much preferred the Scarlets win and playing a small part with 20 minutes at the end.
"Just being part of a winning team makes such a difference – it's a much better training environment to come into and everyone is happier... but deep down I still want to be playing."
He gets that chance to make an impression on director of rugby Lyn Jones on Saturday after being given the starting berth against Munster in Cork.
Evans is determined to grasp that chance and knows that he will play a key role in attempting to replicate the Rodney Parade form on the road.
"The main thing that we have to focus on is territory," he said. "In an away game you cannot afford to be stuck in your own half and that is something that hurt us in Edinburgh."
To that end, Evans hopes to be the beneficiary of the Dragons' summer of graft on the contact area.
The coaching staff had two main targets in the off season - the breakdown and defence - and both have gone superbly in the first three games. "The ball has been on a plate for Richie," he said. "The rucks are opening up and teams are finding it hard to realign in defence.
"That gives the scrum-half such an easy ride and you don't have to worry about anything as you come into the ruck. The forwards are working very hard."
- There were mixed fortunes for the two Gwent representatives in the WRU Under-18 league yesterday.
Coleg Gwent were worthy 33-26 winners in an entertaining clash with Llandrillo but Newport High School, on their competition debut, were downed 21-11 by Bridgend College despite a spirited display at the Brewery Field.
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