Pat Leach to return for Dragons against Leinster
2:29pm Tuesday 29th October 2013 in Sport
CENTRE Pat Leach is back to boost Newport Gwent Dragons for their RaboDirect Pro12 clash with Leinster on Friday (kick-off 7.05pm).
The 28-year-old has been out of action since tearing ligaments in his left elbow against Edinburgh in the second week of the season.
His return is especially timely as teenage centre Jack Dixon is set to be sidelined for at least four months because of a foot operation.
Leach is poised to partner Ross Wardle in midfield with fly-half Jason Tovey, who missed last weekend's 40-17 tonking at the Ospreys because of concussion, on their inside.
"Jason was missed last week and we have missed Pat as well," said director of rugby Lyn Jones.
"We've got some good players but need them fit all the time to compete so I am really pleased to have two of them back.
"Ross Wardle is making great progress and I look forward to those three working together on Friday."
The Dragons are looking to protect a perfect home record after wins against Ulster, the Scarlets, Zebre and Mogliano.
But they head into the game on the back of a humbling at the Liberty Stadium and with an awful recent record against Leinster.
They have lost their last six games against the Pro12 champions, who have often triumphed at Rodney Parade without their Ireland contingent.
Leinster are without their international stars again this weekend but will still be able to boast a quality side of young talent and seasoned campaigners – including South Africa star Zane Kirchner at full-back, former Australia wing Lote Tuqiri, abrasive Ireland flanker Shane Jennings and New Zealander Andrew Goodman in midfield.
"We are down a few bodies this week because of Ireland commitments, but that will present an opportunity for a number of players who have been itching for game time in recent weeks," said Leinster coach Matt O'Connor.
"We're delighted to have the likes of Jennings and Kirchner back in the frame because we're going to need a few experienced heads over in Newport in a ground which has traditionally been a difficult place for Leinster to go to and win.
"The Dragons will be determined to get back to winning ways after their defeat to the Ospreys and they are a side who have progressed this year."
Dragons squad: D Evans, W Harries, M Pewtner, H Amos, T Prydie, A Hughes, R Wardle, P Leach, L Robling, A Smith, J Tovey, K Burton, S Jones, R Rees, J Evans, W Evans, O Evans, P Price, A Coundley, N Williams, H Gustafson, S Parry, E Dee, D Way, N Buck, F Chaparro, A Jones, M Screech, R Sidoli, J Groves, N Talei, L Evans, I Jones.
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