Dragons bring Bell out of retirement for Glasgow clash

1:25pm Friday 21st February 2014

NEWPORT Gwent Dragons have brought veteran tighthead Duncan Bell out of retirement to bolster their pack for Sunday's RaboDirect Pro12 encounter with Glasgow, writes Chris Kirwan.

The 39-year-old ex-England front row forward will start against the title-chasing Warriors at Rodney Parade (kick-off 2.30pm) with former Scotland international Bruce Douglas, who is on loan from Bristol, on the bench.

The Dragons are without a recognised tighthead because Nathan Buck is ill, Dan Way has a back problem and Francisco Chaparro is banned until April 27 following his dismissal for a tip tackle against Leinster.

Bell, who played for Ebbw Vale and Pontypridd before become a legend with Bath, last took to the field at the top level two years ago and has since been coaching Lydney.

"I am very excited but also a little nervous," said Bell. "I have not played a game at this level for a long time. But I felt OK in training and this is a great opportunity I cannot turn down.

"I am eternally grateful to both my employers Chartwell Funding and Lydney for their support. They have both been so accommodating."

Cross Keys' Rhys Jones makes his first Pro12 start for the Dragons at full-back because of the unavailability of Dan Evans (suspension), Hallam Amos and Tom Prydie (both ankle injuries).

Andrew Coombs is released by Wales to captain the side from lock against a Glasgow side that have won all of their away games in the Pro12 this season.

Eleven of the visitors' players feature for Scotland against Italy in Rome but the fourth-placed outfit are bolstered by overseas stars Josh Strauss, Niko Matawalu, Jerry Yanuyanutawa and Leone Nakarawa.

"Glasgow have really come on in the last couple of years and have understood what it takes to become a good Pro12 side," said Dragons director of rugby Lyn Jones.

"They have got their squad structure right – they produce players for Wales and their overseas players are available at crucial times – and that is reflected in where they are in the table."

The Dragons did, however, triumph 23-8 in Glasgow last November.

Dragons: R Jones, M Pewtner, P Leach, A Smith, W Harries, J Tovey, R Rees, O Evans, R Thomas, D Bell, A Coombs (captain), C Hill, J Groves, N Cudd, L Evans. Replacements: H Gustafson, P Price, B Douglas, M Screech, I Jones, W Evans, D Jones, R Wardle.

Glasgow: R Jackson, L Jones, R Vernon, M Bennett, B McGuigan, F Russell, N Matawalu, J Yanuyanutawa, D Hall, M Cusack, L Nakarawa, J Gray, R Harley, T Holmes, J Strauss (captain). Replacements: F Brown, G Reid, J Welsh, T Ryder, J Eddie, H Pyrgos, F Niua, R Hughes.

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