4:00pm Tuesday 21st January 2014
JAMES Benjamin will attempt to follow the lead of fellow talented teenage flanker Scott Matthews by impressing for Newport Gwent Dragons this weekend.
Openside Matthews, 19, made his European debut in the region's hard-earned 24-12 Amlin Challenge Cup win against Mogliano last Thursday.
On Saturday his Wales Under-20s teammate Benjamin, also 19, is set to feature in the LV= Cup encounter with English heavyweights Northampton at Rodney Parade.
Benjamin made his Dragons debut in the Anglo-Welsh tournament last November, catching the eye with a tenacious performance in the 20-8 win against London Wasps.
And his sparring partner has applied the pressure ahead of the date against the Saints after impressing in northern Italy.
"Scott Matthews did very well against Mogliano," said director of rugby Lyn Jones. "He dislocated his finger after five minutes but soldiered on and gave a manly performance.
"I was really pleased with Scott, he was influential and was a catalyst in us scoring two tries and it was a nice confidence booster for him ahead of the Under-20s Six Nations. We want to take a look at these young players."
Another player who will soon be in the mix for starts in the back row is openside Darren Waters, who successfully came back from knee ligament damage for Cross Keys in the British and Irish Cup last weekend.
The 28-year-old enjoyed a 20-minute workout and the Dragons will continue to nurse him back to full fitness.
"It's nice to see Darren back from a nasty injury," said Jones. "I am looking forward to seeing him play because everybody tells me that he is a very good player.
"He may or may not be involved against Northampton but he certainly will against Newcastle."
The extent of the ankle injury suffered by Tom Prydie against Bath a fortnight ago will be clearer once he has undergone surgery this week but the Wales wing is set to be out until at least the final month of the season.
Lock Cory Hill (ankle), fly-half Jason Tovey (ankle) and back row Netani Talei (foot) are poised to return from injury against the Saints.
Even a Dragons win with a bonus point may not be enough to keep alive their qualification hopes going into their final group game against Newcastle.
If Saracens bag a five-point haul against the Falcons at Allianz Park on Sunday then they will secure Pool One top spot and a place in the semi-finals.
Dragons squad: D Evans, W Harries, M Pewtner, A Hughes, R Wardle, A Smith, P Leach, K Burton, J Tovey, R Rees, L Jones, O Evans, H Gustafson, P Price, R Thomas, E Dee, F Chaparro, N Buck, R Sidoli, M Screech, C Hill, A Jones, J Groves, D Waters, L Evans, J Benjamin, N Talei.
- Newport Gwent Dragons Under-18s take on their Cardiff Blues counterparts at Cross Keys' Pandy Park tomorrow evening (kick-off 7.15pm).
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