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Derby is of ‘huge importance’

Guinness PRO12 Editor

24 Sep 2010


Paul Turner and Tom Willis have spoken of how important Friday night’s derby match with the Sacrlets could be to the Dragons’ season.

The Dragons go into the Round 4 fixture on the back of a disappointing defeat to fellow Welsh rivals the Blues – their second defeat of the new campaign.

Skipper Willis hasn’t featured so far this term due to an ankle injury but the former All Black has still made it clear to his team-mates that the set-to with the Scarlets is a crunch game even this early in the season.

“After last week it is of huge importance that we put something together,” said Willis who is due to return to the squad against the West Walians.

“Every game is a big game for us.  We need to get some points and a win.  We need to get a W for momentum and confidence.

“The most obvious thing is that we’ve been inconsistent. We were outplayed by Connacht in the first round, produced a quality workman-like performance at home a week later and were then outplayed again last week.

”This game’s important for us to build some momentum. The honeymoon’s over now and it’s time to start getting some results week in, week out.”

Those sentiments are echoed by head coach Turner, who is desperate for his side to reproduce the kind of form that saw them come so close to a Magners League Play-Off spot last season.

“We haven't started the season as well as we would have liked,” admitted Turner.

”We felt we put Glasgow away pretty easily but there were still things that weren't right. Our defence has to improve – 23 up front tackles missed last week isn't good enough.

”We need to get back to where we were last year and where we feel we should be.”

But while both men know their own team needs to step up the anti this weekend, they are equally aware of the threat posed by a Scarlets outfit who were one of only two opposition sides to record a league win at Rodney Parade last season.

The Scarlets have now won two-in-a-row at a ground most teams love to hate and they arrive in Newport on the back of a six-try thrashing of Aironi last weekend.

“The Scarlets have been very good. They have got some good results, have a strong set-piece and have some very good players,” added Turner.

”Losing out in Italy must have been tough for them, but it has been proved how good Treviso are. The Italian teams have taken the league to another level.

”It's a local derby and we will be doing our utmost to get the win.We have had some pretty controversial battles with them in recent years so we want to put one over them.”

“The Scarlets appear to be a pretty well organised and effective team so far this season,” agreed Willis.

”They’ve leaked a few but they know their way to the tryline. There’s plenty of threats throughout their backline and they appear to have a forward pack that are well drilled and providing quality ball.

“Their front row are really experienced and they like to get around the park. They have scored a fair few tries and I imagine that has come from a solid platform up front.

“A derby’s always got that extra edge. A lot of the Welsh boys are competing against their colleagues if they’ve got ambitions to play for the national team.

”A lot of them are close mates and that adds a bit of spice. And obviously there’s bragging rights and everything that goes with it.”