The Southern Kings are in Wales to take on the Dragons at Rodney Parade in a bid for their first win of the Guinness PRO14 season on Saturday.
What’s at stake?
Both sides are trying to find a footing in Conference B, making a victory here imperative in their bid to climb up the standings.
The Dragons will want to dust themselves off from Ulster’s ruthless display last week, whilst Southern Kings will want to build on their brief comeback against Zebre in the second half of their clash.
Team news (Dragons):
Bernard Jackman has stuck very closely to the side that produced a victory at home to Connacht.
Carl Meyer returns to the back three, with centre partnership Tyler Morgan and Jack Dixon getting the nod, whilst Gavin Henson will pull the strings at fly-half.
In the pack, Elliot Dee, Brok Harris and Lee Brown make up the Dragons’ front row, captain Cory Hill is joined by Matthew Screech as flankers James Thomas and Ollie Griffiths are anchored by James Benjamin at No.8
Team news (Southern Kings):
Head coach Dean Davids makes three changes in the backline, with Jacques Nel, veteran Alshaun Bock and Godlen Masimla coming into the starting line-up.
The back row has also been reshuffled with Andile Ntsila switching from No.8 to the blindside, with Jurie Van Vuuren and No.8 Dries Van Schalkwyk making up the trio.
Prop Entienne Swanepoel returns from a compulsory break due to concussion to take his place on the bench, and Michael Willemse captains the side from the front row.
Talking points: Southern Kings are still searching for their first-ever victory in the Guinness PRO14 competition and go into the match with everything to gain.
And Dragons scrum-half Sarel Pretorious said: “They have nothing to lose and that sort of team is always dangerous, so we can’t just say ‘it’s the Kings, they are new to the competition, they are vulnerable.
“They will be targeting us and we have to stick to our guns and do what we need to.
“We know their threats – they have a very good back three so we have to tidy up any loose kicks because they will punish us.”
Key Battle: Gavin Henson vs Pieter-Steyn de Wet
Henson will be aware that any loose kicks to the Kings’ pacy back three will be dangerous during the game, but will be keen to bring Welsh flyer Hallam Amos into the game on the wing.
Pieter-Steyn de Wet meanwhile, who marked his PRO14 debut last week, will want build on a promising second-half performance from his side at Zebre.
Key Stat: The Dragons have not won successive Guinness PRO14 matches at Rodney Parade since last November.
Dragons: Carl Meyer, Ashton Hewitt, Tyler Morgan, Jack Dixon, Hallam Amos, Gavin Henson, Sarel Pretorius, Brok Harris, Elliot Dee, Leon Brown, Matthew Screech, Cory Hill (c), James Thomas, Ollie Griffiths, James Benjamin.
Replacements: Ellis Shipp, Thomas Davies, Lloyd Fairbrother, Joe Davies, Aaron Wainwright, Dane Blacker, Angus O’Brien, Thretton Palamo.
Southern Kings: Masixole Banda; Yaw Penxe, Jacques Nel, Berton Klaasen, Alshaun Bock; Pieter Steyn de Wet, Godlen Masimla; Schalk Ferreira, Michael Willemse (c), Martin Dreyer, Stephan Greeff, Bobby de Wee, Andisa Ntsila, Jurie van Vuuren, Dries van Schalkwyk
Replacements: Stephan Coetzee, Rossouw de Klerk, Entienne Swanepoel, Lubabalo Mtyanda, Khaya Majola, Rowan Gouws, Oliver Zono, Luzuko Vulindlu.
TV: Live on S4C (KO 7.35pm local)
Match officials – Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU), AR1: Dan Wilkinson (IRFU), AR2: Gareth John (WRU) TMO: Kevin Biggs (IRFU)
Southern Kings are still looking for their maiden Guinness PRO14 win after they were overpowered by the Dragons at Rodney Parade.
The hosts used the driving maul to devastating effect as they went over four times in a bruising performance.
Braces from Elliott Dee and Hallam Amos either side of half time secured the win for Bernard Jackman‘s side with Anidisa Ntsila going over for the visitors in their only try of the night.
The result will give the Dragons a welcome boost and a second victory as they look to climb the Conference B table.
Southern Kings opened the scoring after just three minutes through a Pieter-Steyn de Wet penalty but their slender lead would last less than two minutes as Hallam Amos went over the line.
Straight from Gavin Henson’s kick off, the Dragons drove forward as Jack Dixon and Tyler Morgan linked up well to send Amos over the line.
In treacherous conditions, the Dragons continued to dominate proceedings and after a Henson penalty, two tries in four minutes put the game beyond the South Africans.
The Kings are penalised for blocking Ashton Hewitt allowing the hosts to kick to the corner before setting up a driving maul as Dee crashed over.
And just minutes the later Sarel Pretorious was able to find Amos in space and the winger managed to barge his way over the line.
There was no let up for the Kings as the Dragons continued to assert their dominance and went over three minutes into the second half.
The Dragons continued to use the driving maul to their advantage and after a fine break from Carl Meyer, the maul powered its way towards the line and Dee went over again.
The Kings were keen to haul themselves back into the contest and it was their turn to use the driving maul as Ntsila drove his way over the whitewash.
But scores were few and far between for the South Africans, who have lost every match so far this season.
Dragons were unable improve their healthy lead but a comfortable victory for the hosts will be music to the ears of Bernard Jackman after their heavy defeat at the hands of Ulster last week.
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