Dragons set to plump for forwards-heavy bench in Zebre

NEWPORT Gwent Dragons are set to select six forwards on their bench for Saturday's RaboDirect Pro12 clash against Zebre after being overpowered last weekend, writes Chris Kirwan.

The region are poised to name three props and a hooker among their replacements along with lock and back row cover as they attempt to respond to being destroyed up front by Connacht on Sunday.

All three fit tightheads – Duncan Bell, Douglas and Nathan Buck – are likely to be in the matchday squad in Parma.

Connacht bagged a bonus point from their 24-8 win at Rodney Parade thanks to three tries from their driving lineout and another from a scrum against the head.

Such was their dominance that director of rugby Lyn Jones replaced loosehead Owen Evans, hooker Hugh Gustafson and tighthead Bruce Douglas after just half an hour.

"It wasn't easy to make such a substitution but it was clearly the wrong selection by me," said Jones, whose coaching team was joined by Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde yesterday.

"We will be putting three tightheads in the squad against Zebre, one of which (Douglas) can play loosehead as well.

"We need to have the flexibility to get fresh people on to keep the scrum secure for us. If that means we've got to have two backs then that's what we have got to do.

"We played Bath, who are a strong scrummaging side, in a friendly at the start of the year and kept in the game because we kept changing our props."

Wing/full-back Hallam Amos, who scored a brace against Zebre in the 30-7 win at Rodney Parade in October, is back in the extended squad after recovering from an ankle problem.

The 19-year-old, who was capped by Wales against Tonga in the autumn, suffered the blow against Cardiff Blues on Boxing Day. He made his return against Newcastle in the LV= Cup on January 31 only to suffer a repeat of the injury against Leinster a fortnight later.

Experienced hooker Rhys Thomas is set to return to light training next week after suffering a hand injury against Ulster in February while tighthead prop Dan Way is still out with a back problem.

Fly-half Steffan Jones and lock Cory Hill are back in full training after suffering from hamstring problems.

Comments (3)

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8:12am Thu 27 Mar 14

Caerleonboy says...

Great news to hear that McBryde has been working with our coaches recently, but this should have happened ages ago. The Welsh coaches can't be that busy outside of 6 Nations and autumn internationals, so surely their job should include working with the regions. This would help strengthen the regions and therefore boost the quality of players for the national side. Plus, the coaches will know the players better when it comes to selection for the Welsh squad, so players will be selected based on ability not how far west their club is.
Great news to hear that McBryde has been working with our coaches recently, but this should have happened ages ago. The Welsh coaches can't be that busy outside of 6 Nations and autumn internationals, so surely their job should include working with the regions. This would help strengthen the regions and therefore boost the quality of players for the national side. Plus, the coaches will know the players better when it comes to selection for the Welsh squad, so players will be selected based on ability not how far west their club is. Caerleonboy
  • Score: 6

9:01am Thu 27 Mar 14

Warbles says...

I wouldn't have McBryde anywhere near them!
I wouldn't have McBryde anywhere near them! Warbles
  • Score: -3

10:12pm Thu 27 Mar 14

corpardguy says...

All the more reason to keep Dan Evans utility+ and forget Gav.
All the more reason to keep Dan Evans utility+ and forget Gav. corpardguy
  • Score: 1

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