Match Page 2017-18 - Scoreboard WP ID: 132

Match Page 2017-18 - Last Time WP ID: 133

Match Page 2017-18 - Current Standing WP: 134

Match Page 2017-18 - H2H WP: 136

Match Page 2017-18 - Last 3 Matches WP: 142

Match Page 2017-18 - Season so Far WP:141

Preview: Dragons v Connacht

Daniel Barnes 14 Sep 2017

After back-to-back defeats, the Dragons go looking to get their first Guinness PRO14 victory on the board when they roll out the red carpet for Connacht on Friday night (kick-off 7.30pm). Having been beaten by last year’s semi-finalists Leinster and then Edinburgh, the Welsh side come up against a Connacht outfit fresh from a 32-10 victory over the Southern Kings in Round Two.

What’s at stake?: The Dragons already had a victory on the board at this stage last season, courtesy of an 11-6 triumph over Zebre, so new boss Bernard Jackman will be hoping that his team don’t begin their 2017-18 campaign with a third loss.

Should they prevent the Dragons from getting themselves off the mark, Connacht will claim their first victory of the season away from the Galway Sportsground.

Team news (Dragons): The home side will be boosted by the return of two key players – Wales international flanker Ollie Griffiths and South African scrum-half Sarel Pretorious.

In a third and final change, Jack Dixon comes in to partner Tyler Morgan at centre.

Team news (Connacht): Connacht head coach Kieran Keane, who like Jackman, is in his first season at the helm, has shuffled his pack, making no less than seven changes.

Rory Scholes, Caolin Blade, Denis Coulson, Conor Carey, Quinn Roux and Jake Heenan are all handed their first starts of the season, with Eoghan Masterson also coming in.

Talking points: The Dragons ran out 21-16 winners in the same fixture last season but both teams are now adapting to new coaching philosophies and will be out to give their supporters something to shout about.

Like he did during his time in charge at Grenoble, former Connacht player Jackman will pit a side under his wing against his former employers.

Key battle: Full-back is likely to be a crucial area when these two sides meet, with experienced ex-South Africa international Zane Kirchner, a key man in Leinster’s 2013-14 title triumph, lining up for the Dragons.

Kirchner will face off against Tiernan O’Halloran, who earned his first Ireland cap in 2016 and is slowly but surely progressing into a key operator for Connacht.

Key stat: Connacht have had the upper hand in recent encounters between the sides, winning eight of the last nine times the teams have faced off.

Did you know? Six Connacht players will be making their Guinness PRO14 debuts when they take to the field at Rodney Parade.

Dragons: Z Kirchner, A Hewitt, T Morgan, J Dixon, H Amos; G Henson, S Pretorius; B Harris, E Dee, L Brown, R Landman, C Hill, H Keddie, O Griffiths, J Benjamin.

Replacements: G Ellis, T Davies, L Fairbrother, M Screech, R Blake, O Leonard, D Jones, J Rosser.

Connacht: T O’Halloran; D Leader, T Farrell, B Aki, R Scholes; J Carty, C Blade; D Coulson, T McCartney, C Carey, Q Roux, J Cannon, E Masterson, J Heenan, J Muldoon.

Replacements: D Heffernan, P McCabe, D Robertson-McCoy, G Thornbury, J Butler, K Marmion, S Crosbie, E Griffin.

Match officials – Referee: Quinton Immelman (SARU). Assistant Referee 1: Craig Evans (WRU). AR2: Rhys Thomas (WRU). TMO: Rhys Thomas (WRU)

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Historical Lineup Pre Opta (sfms data) - Preview - v2

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Dragons claim first win of the season against Connacht

Luke Baker 15 Sep 2017

The Dragons earned their first win of the Guinness PRO14 season as a scintillating first-half performance was enough to see off Connacht 21-8 at Rodney Parade.

The Welsh side had suffered defeats to Edinburgh and Leinster in their first two matches in the new-look league but bounced back to deservedly take victory underneath the Friday night lights.

Connacht, who were coming off a 32-10 triumph over Southern Kings in Round Two, had won eight of the last nine games between the sides yet were caught cold by an imperious first-half Dragons display.

Hallam Amos finished off an incredible team try in the opening moments and Elliot Dee also got driven over as they racked up a 21-3 advantage by half-time.

Quinn Roux’s score early in the second period could have sparked a comeback but the Dragons’s defence remained solid as coach Bernard Jackman got one over the side he began his playing career with.

The Dragons won this fixture 21-16 last season and the lightning start they made at Rodney Parade suggested they fancied repeating the trick.

With just two minutes on the clock, a spectacular, flowing team move that began in their own half and included four offloads – including an incredible release by falling hooker Dee – was finished in the corner by Amos, although Gavin Henson failed to add the extras.

Jack Carty soon narrowed the deficit to 5-3 with a penalty right in front of the posts but the hosts demonstrated their attacking intent by booting a kickable 19th-minute penalty into the corner.

The resulting lineout ten metres from the line was duly won and an inexorable driving maul resulted in Dee being shoved over and dotting down. This time Henson made no mistake with the conversion.

Rather than sit back on their 12-3 advantage, the Welsh side continued to press – prop Brok Harris making a searing break that belied his 18-and-a-half stone frame and Henson slotting a pair of three-pointers just before the half-hour mark, the latter coming after Connacht’s James Cannon was sin-binned.

The 33-cap Welsh international then converted a scrum penalty on the stroke of half-time to complete a sterling first period for the hosts.

Connacht improved in the early stages of the second half and they finally turned territory into points on 53 minutes as a well-taken lineout was driven forward, before Roux broke free to get over.

The try went unconverted but Kieran Keane’s troops were soon on the attack again, Bundee Aki slicing through the home defence, although Jackman’s side held firm and almost scored on the counter but Sarel Pretorius’s kick ahead rolled agonisingly into touch.

The Irishmen set up camp in the home 22 in the final quarter as they looked for a route back into the game but turnover ball and a clearing kick from Amos at the death completed a job well done for the Dragons.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Match Page 2017-18 - Summary WP:137

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Performance WP:138