NEWPORT Gwent Dragons captain Lee Byrne believe tonight's clash against English champions Northampton is the ultimate test as they count down to the start of the Guinness Pro12.

The Saints are coming to Eugene Cross Park in Ebbw Vale (kick-off 7.30pm) for the Dragons' final friendly before their league opener against Connacht in Galway next Saturday.

Northampton won the Aviva Premiership and Amlin Challenge Cup last season and head to Gwent with a star-studded squad, much to Byrne's delight.

"We've taken on a young Bristol side and then Lydney but this is the real test," said the former Wales and Lions full-back.

"Northampton beat Leinster last weekend and will also be keen to step things up before the start of their season (against Gloucester next Friday).

"They have shown what a quality side they are over the last few years and we will have to stand up to one of the most physical sides in Europe.

"It's a massive challenge and a great chance to get some momentum for next week by putting in a big performance."