9:01am Monday 27th January 2014
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons director of rugby Lyn Jones has pledged to keep working on the training paddock and in the recruitment market in the bid to solve the region's set piece woes, writes Chris Kirwan.
The scrum and defence of the driving lineout remains the Dragons' Achilles heel – that's why Jones is attempting to bring in some new seasoned props in that summer and why he turned to an old colleague for a hand ahead of last Saturday's game against Northampton.
James Buckland, acting head coach at London Scottish and a former hooker with Leicester, Wasps, London Irish and the Saints, was invited to training by the Rodney Parade boss, who worked with him at London Welsh last season.
Nobody was expecting miracles overnight and the troubles somewhat predictably continued against the Aviva Premiership title hopefuls.
Northampton demolished the Dragons up front with their power game in a 34-16 win, scrumming their way to a penalty try, winning one against the head for another five-pointer and driving over for two scores from lineouts.
The Dragons are yet to settle on a tight five; they have used 19 different tight five combinations in 21 games so far this season and have named an unchanged quintet just once (versus Munster last autumn following a win in Glasgow).
Jones, whose forwards coach Kingsley Jones is currently away with Russia ahead of World Cup qualifiers and the European Nations Cup, acknowledged that it is a crippling weakness for the Dragons.
"Our front five had a tough time against Northampton," said Jones. "The challenge for me as director of rugby is to ensure the expertise comes into the region to enhance our ability to scrum and maul.
"Northampton are a top four side in the Aviva Premiership and a genuine power side.
"We need to improve in that department; there are some glimpses of improvement but in tight play it only takes one forward to not do their role and it all falls down.
"There are lots of ways to improve tight five play and the expertise in Wales isn't great, either on the field or of it. We need to provide a platform in order to be successful in the future."
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