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Match Page 2017-18 - Scoreboard WP ID: 132

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Pretorius eyeing up momentum as Dragons host Treviso

Ross Lawson 5 Jan 2017
Tito Tebaldi

Newport Gwent Dragons and Benetton Treviso face off at Rodney Parade on Friday night at 7:15pm, with eyes firmly on a first win and a momentum-building start to 2017.

Treviso lost out to Glasgow Warriors in a New Year’s Eve thriller, 28-35 on home soil, while it was tough work for the Dragons a day later, missing out on Welsh bragging rights 10-0 to Ospreys.

What’s at stake? The Italian side are four points behind Dragons in the Guinness PRO12 table, safe in the knowledge that a rare win away from home could be enough to leapfrog their opponents into tenth place.

For Dragons, the importance of home form will certainly be on their mind in their bid to catch Edinburgh, who currently sit ninth, three points better off as the second half of the season hots up.

More important for Kingsley Jones’ side will be addressing their three-game losing run in Guinness PRO12 matches, a record that has seen them with just three wins to their name so far.

But it’s Treviso who currently have the stronger recent history, prevailing 27-11 at Stadio Comunale di Monigo back in September, the most recent of two successive victories.

Team news (Newport Gwent Dragons): Jones has made three changes to the side that lost out to Ospreys, with all of them coming in the backs.

Tom Prydie comes in on the wing, while Adam Warren returns at centre. Sarel Pretorius is named in the half-backs to sit alongside Angus O’Brien who retains his place at fly-half.

Team news (Benetton Treviso): Luca Morisi and Angelo Esposito join an ever-growing injury list for Treviso, with Kieran Crowley also deciding to make three changes.

Alberto Sgarbi returns as the captain, while Tito Tebaldi is in at scrum-half and Andrea Pratichetti takes his place on the wing.

Talking points: Scrum half Pretorius came off the bench for the Dragons last weekend, but feels the time is now for both he and the region to show what they are all about at Rodney Parade.

“This week I get a start and it’s a great opportunity for me, so I will do my best. I always try to bring a positive vibe and make a difference when I come on,” said the South African.

“We have a good record at home but we lost unfortunately to the Ospreys. However, it’s a new year now with new goals and we just need to stay positive. I think that we can achieve good things at the Dragons.”

But Treviso flanker Abraham Steyn believes boasts a big chance to upset the applecart on Friday night, with his side taking a lot of confidence from their meeting earlier in the season.

“We are two teams that occupy the bottom of the league and I think we both see in this game a chance to score points.

“It will surely be a completely different game to the first leg, we will have to face them with the knowledge that even outside the home can we show our strength.”

Key Battle: Angus O’Brien and Tommaso Allan head to Rodney Parade locked on 63 points for the season, enough to see the pair eighth in the Guinness PRO12 season for points scored.

The two have the ability to single-handedly take games away from their opponent – as Allan showed in Treviso’s victory over Zebre last month – with the prevailing fly-half likely to have a big say in the direction of the match.

Key stat: Treviso have won their last two encounters with Dragons but these were played at Stadio Monigo, the Italians have not been victorious at Rodney Parade since a single point triumph in April 2012.

Did you know? Treviso won their most recent away game 28-15 in Bayonne in the European Challenge Cup but have not won successive matches on their travels since 2011, whilst their most recent victory on the road in the Guinness PRO12 was 26-16 at Zebre in December 2014.

Top Points Scorer:  Angus O’Brien 63pts. Top Try Scorer: Pat Howard 4

Top Points Scorer:  Tommaso Allan 63pts. Top Try Scorer: Dean Budd 4

Overall Guinness PRO12 head to head record:
Played 13, Dragons won 6, Treviso win 7.

At Rodney Parade, 7.15pm.
Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU, 2nd competition game)
Assistant Referees: Sam Grove-White (SRU), Sean Brickell (WRU)
Citing Commissioner: Jeff Mark (WRU)

Guinness PRO12 Final 2017 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 adults and €5 child, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie. For further information visit http://www.pro12rugby.com/final

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

O’Brien shines from tee as Dragons get back to winning ways

Guinness PRO12 Rugby Editor 6 Jan 2017

Angus O’Brien delivered a kicking masterclass from the tee as Newport Gwent Dragons put a stop to their three-game losing streak with a dominant display over Benetton Treviso under Friday Night Lights.

The Dragons came into their tie at Rodney Parade on the back of successive defeats in the Guinness PRO12, but turned their fortunes around for only their fourth league victory of the season.

After giving Kingsley Jones’ side an early lead from a penalty, O’Brien went on to add 11 further points for the Dragons, with tries for the Welsh outfit coming from Sarel Pretorius and skipper Lewis Evans.

A score from Tito Tebaldi and three points from Tommaso Allan looked to have given the Italians hope early on in the first half, but a sudden increase in tempo from the Dragons put the game to bed.

O’Brien broke the deadlock for the Dragons, kicking them into the lead from the tee after the Italians were penalised in front of the posts.

But Treviso immediately responded when Tebaldi reacted quickest to a Dragons mistake, hacking on and gathering to cross in the corner.

They further extended their lead on 24 minutes when Allan successfully kicked for three points after the Dragons were called up for slowing possession at a ruck, having given away a handful of penalties in the lead up.

It didn’t take long, however, for the hosts to regain their advantage, upping the tempo for Pretorius to dot down under the posts after spotting the gap before O’Brien nailed the conversion.

Pretorius was then sin-binned seven minutes later for slamming the ball down following a scrum in the Dragons’ 22, before the visitors wasted a glorious opportunity to pull some points back, knocking on after attacking from the scrum.

O’Brien ensured Jones’ men would go into the break with a five-point advantage, slotting home a penalty from 40 metres on the stroke of half-time.

The hosts saw their lead further extended ten minutes into the second period, that man again O’Brien – the Dragons’ top point scorer – coolly burying a drop goal after struggling to find a way through the Treviso defence.

He then stretched his side’s lead to 11 points four minutes later, opting for the posts after the opposition were penalised.

It was the turn of Evans to cross the whitewash next for the Dragons, finding himself on the end of the maul to score, and the hosts put the game out of Treviso’s reach when Dorian Jones added the extras.

Guinness PRO12 Final 2017 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 adults and €5 child, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie. For further information visit http://www.pro12rugby.com/final

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