Lewis Evans is international class - Dragons boss Lyn Jones
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons director of rugby Lyn Jones believes flanker Lewis Evans is playing himself into the Wales squad for the autumn international.
The 26-year-old has been at the fore of a tenacious, gutsy start to the campaign for the Rodney Parade region.
The Dragons were downed 23-9 by Munster in Cork on Saturday, failing to notch a RaboDirect Pro12 point for the first time this season, but Evans was once again immense.
The openside was a leading figure in a defensive effort that enabled them to press for a bonus point in the closing stages despite being on the back foot for most of the game.
Wales are blessed with plenty of back row options but the Dragons man, who can play six, seven or eight, has put himself in the mix.
The international coaches monitor derby games closely and Evans impressed in the win against the Scarlets in round three when he made 24 tackles, more than anyone else in the Pro12 on that weekend of action.
And Jones believes last season's captain, who has twice been called into training squads without winning caps, will have caught the eye of boss Warren Gatland.
"Lewis Evans is looking every bit an international rugby player," said Jones, himself a former Wales flanker.
"I think that it's a matter of time before he gets called in by Wales and shows what he can do because he has been playing superbly.
"Lewis is accurate, reads the game well, plays at a good height and his timing is superb.
"It's not just his skills – the decisions he is making are correct and if you don't make many mistakes then you can go on to play international rugby.
"I believe that Lewis could be in the Wales squad this autumn at openside or six."
While Evans' performance against Munster pleased Jones, the display of the set piece was cause for concern.
The Dragons were under the pump at scrum time while the lineout spluttered and defence was shaky against the Irish province's driving maul.
"If you lose set piece battles in your own half then you lose points," said Jones. "Unfortunately we did that consistently.
"It cost us and it's a shame because there is so much good in our play but if one part of a multi-disciplined game lets you down then the whole thing implodes."
The Dragons returned to Wales yesterday (Sunday) and face a swift turnaround before welcoming Zebre to Rodney Parade on Friday.
Wales and Lions number eight Toby Faletau will return against the Italians while centre Pat Leach (elbow) and flanker Nic Cudd (shoulder) could come back into contention.
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