THE Dragons have been given a Sunday lunchtime date for their European Challenge Cup quarter-final against Bristol.

The Bears will host the Rodney Parade region on Sunday, April 5 (kick-off 12.45pm) with a bumper crowd expected at the 27,500-capacity Ashton Gate.

The Severnside clash will take place on the Sunday because there is another derby encounter on the Saturday afternoon when Bristol City host Cardiff City in the Championship.

A Friday night game was a non-starter as the Ashton Gate pitch will be protected for the football fixture.

The winner will take on either Bordeaux-Begles or Edinburgh, which takes place on Saturday evening, with the seedings meaning the Dragons cannot enjoy home advantage in the semi-finals.

The region will be hoping for a financial boost from the last-eight encounter, which will be shown on BT Sport, as gate receipts are shared between the teams.

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Dean Ryan’s men will make the short trip over the Severn Bridge thanks to finishing second in Pool One behind Castres, with their tally of 20 points enough to secure one of three best runner-up spots.

Bristol earned home advantage by running away with Pool Four, enjoying five wins before ending with a draw at Zebre.

"It will be a tough challenge, they are doing really well in the Gallagher Premiership and are playing with a lot of confidence," said Dragons backs coach Maddocks.

"Their style of play is pretty open but I think that is a good thing because for us to play a team that wants to play (expansively) as well helps our game because the boys are happy to be in that zone.”

The quarter-final pits Dragons boss Dean Ryan against Bristol counterpart Pat Lam, who was a back-row partner in the 1998 Newcastle team that won the English title.

Former Bear Rhodri Williams is likely to start at scrum-half for the Dragons but full-back Jordan Williams and prop Ryan Bevington, who also headed for Rodney Parade from the West Country in 2018, are injured.

Bristol’s squad features ex-Ebbw Vale winger Toby Fricker and Newport’s Ryan Edwards along with former Dragons tighthead Nicky Thomas.