Dragons fly-half Jason Tovey set for shootout with Leinster ace Jimmy Gopperth
8:02am Friday 1st November 2013 in Sport
JASON Tovey's timely return for Newport Gwent Dragons sets up a fascinating battle of the fly-halves against Leinster this evening.
The 24-year-old has been in superb form since returning to Rodney Parade in the summer following an ill-fated season with Cardiff Blues.
The left-footer has totted up 47 points and has a success rate of 83 per cent from the kicking tee in the league.
Tovey was sorely missed when a concussion suffered against Bath forced him to sit out the 40-17 drubbing by the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium last week.
He slots straight back into the XV to take on the RaboDirect Pro12 champions this evening and will be up against another fly-half with a deadly boot.
Jimmy Gopperth's impressive start to life in Dublin won't have come as a shock to anyone that saw him pulling the strings over four seasons with Newcastle.
The New Zealander started the first three games of the season and racked up 42 points before taking a back seat while Ireland squad member Ian Madigan was given game time, although Gopperth was preferred at 10 in the Heineken Cup.
That Leinster are able to call on the 30-year-old Kiwi, South Africa full-back Zane Kirchner, ex-Australia wing Lote Tuqiri and back row forwards Shane Jennings and Rhys Ruddock when without a raft of Irish internationals shows that their 'second string' will head to Rodney Parade meaning business.
"We've played them quite a few times when they have had their supposedly under strength team," said Dragons captain Lewis Evans.
"They bring a very formidable team and we know that there is a big challenge coming at us. Their strength in depth is unbelievable.
"These boys that don't get a chance that often will be raring to go and they will be a very enthuastic team from 1 to 15."
Dragons director of rugby Lyn Jones brings five players into the XV that lost in Swansea last weekend.
Wales duty denies him the services of lock Andrew Coombs and number eight Toby Faletau with Adam Jones and Netani Talei their respective replacements.
Adam Hughes comes in on the wing with Hallam Amos replacing Dan Evans at full-back, Pat Leach replaces Lewis Robling in midfield outside Tovey, whose return sees Kris Burton drop to the bench.
"Hopefully there will be some attacking, positive rugby and that is something that Lyn has been drumming into us," said Evans. "He doesn't want us to go into our shells.
"We need to keep attacking rather than being conservative because at the moment we keep kicking the ball away. You can't defend for 75 minutes because you will get broken down eventually."
Leinster have won the last six meetings between the sides and triumphed with a bonus point at Rodney Parade in March.
Dragons: H Amos, T Prydie, P Leach, R Wardle, A Hughes, J Tovey, R Rees, O Evans, S Parry, D Way, A Jones, M Screech, J Groves, L Evans (captain), N Talei. Replacements: H Gustafson, N Williams, F Chaparro, R Sidoli, I Jones, J Evans, K Burton, D Evans.
Leinster: Z Kirchner, D Fanning, L Fitzgerald, N Reid, L Tuqiri, J Gopperth, J Cooney, M Bent, A Dundon, M Moore, Q Roux, T Denton, D Ryan, S Jennings (captain), R Ruddock. Replacements: J Tracey, J O'Connell, T Furlong, B Marshall, L Auva'a, L McGrath, C Marsh, B Macken.
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
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