12:07pm Friday 20th December 2013
By Iwan Gabe Davies
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons have selected a strong squad for tomorrow’s RaboDirect PRO12 clash with Connacht as they look to record rare back-to-back away league victories.
They have made five changes to the starting XV which came unstuck 32-13 in last week’s bitterly disappointing visit to Bordeaux-Bègles.
The Dragons were outmuscled in that Amlin Challenge Cup clash and were punished for their indiscipline with three yellow cards.
But the Gwent region are unlikely to come up against a pack of forwards as brutally powerful as that of Bordeaux-Bègles, considered by some as one of the Top 14’s finest, again this season.
The Dragons will certainly fancy their chances of winning in Galway this weekend which will give them a huge boost ahead of their big Christmas derby with Cardiff Blues at home on Boxing Day before facing them away on New Year’s Day.
And they go there with a team who can certainly do the job. There is just one change up front from the eight who had such a difficult night at Bègles’ Stade André Moga.
Promising 21-year-old Cory Hill, who hasn’t been registered for European rugby, comes in to replace Rob Sidoli, partnering up in the second row with captain Andrew Coombs.
The backs, who will be looking to recapture the sparkling form which saw them earn a well-deserved bonus point in the 40-24 victory over Bordeaux-Bègles at home earlier this month, see three changes.
Two Wales international wingers are back in Will Harries, in for Matthew Pewtner, and Hallam Amos who had to miss last week’s trip to the South of France because he had to catch up with his medical studies after a busy autumn which saw him win his first cap against Tonga.
Amos replaces Ross Wardle on the left wing, the latter shifting to the centre instead of Ashley Smith who moves to the bench.
The last player to come in is another Test player in scrum-half Richie Rees who swaps roles with Wayne Evans who is among the replacements this weekend.
Newport Gwent Dragons: Dan Evans, Will Harries, Pat Leach, Ross Wardle, Hallam Amos, Jason Tovey, Richie Rees, Owen Evans, Sam Parry, Francisco Chaparro, Cory Hill, Andrew Coombs (capt), Lewis Evans, Nic Cudd, Toby Faletau. Replacements: Ashley Smith, Steffan Jones, Wayne Evans, T Rhys Thomas, Hugh Gustafson, Dan Way, Matthew Screech Ieuan Jones.
Referee: Alain Rolland (IRFU)
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