There’s a Welsh regional clash to savour on Saturday as Dragons play host to Cardiff Blues at Rodney Parade.
Dragons come in off the back of a 29-13 defeat to Glasgow Warriors but there was plenty of promise in the performance and they’re on the hunt for a third victory in six games.
John Mulvihill’s Blues, who sit fourth in Conference A, slipped to defeat in each of their opening three but have since surged to back-to-back wins over Munster and Toyota Cheetahs.
What’s at stake? Both teams hold the same record in Guinness PRO14, with two wins and three defeats so far and can reach parity with victory.
But chiefly at stake is local pride, with the capital city side travelling down the coast to Newport in a buoyant mood.
The home side have a point to prove in inter-pro competition, having lost every single one of their last 21 outings against fellow Welsh regions.
Team news (Dragons): Bernard Jackman calls on a number of his big guns amid eight changes from last weekend’s game in Glasgow.
Captain Cory Hill, Ollie Griffiths and Ross Moriarty return to the forward pack and a new-look front row features Leon Brown at tighthead prop.
It’s an all-new half-back partnership as well with Josh Lewis and Rhodri Williams partnered.
Team news (Blues): Mulvihill has also beefed up his pack in a side that shows four changes from the Cheetahs triumph.
Nick Williams and Josh Navidi come into the back row alongside Ellis Jenkins, Guinness PRO14 Man of the Match in Round 5.
The other two alterations see Brad Thyer come in at loosehead prop while Lloyd Williams is the preferred option at scrum-half.
Talking points: Dragons head coach Jackman said: “It’s a match we can win and we are all looking forward to, but we will need to perform really well.
“Cardiff Blues could easily be coming into this game with five wins and I thought they put in the best regional performance of the season against Munster. We have massive respect for them.
“We kept consistent selection for the first five rounds of the competition, but the Zebre game at home was very physical so a few players didn’t travel to Glasgow.
“They come back in for this week and are very eager to make a big impression on a derby game.”
Blues chief Mulvihill said: “It will be a fantastic occasion at Rodney Parade.
“They are going to bring a lot of physicality. You look at all the games they have played – they have been in it early on, even against Leinster.
“A lot of these guys grew up together so it’s a lot of their mates they are playing against. It’s also the first time they know the national coaches will be involved and there’s big selections coming up.
“But we have got to make sure we just look after our side of the field and make sure we are ready to go.
Key battle – Ross Moriarty v Ellis Jenkins
The side able to gain supremacy at the breakdown will be favourites for this one and the clash between these two Welsh international back-rowers should determine momentum.
No player in the Guinness PRO14 has made more turnovers than Jenkins, with eight, while the hosts will bank on Moriarty’s fearsome work in contact to gain a foothold.
Key stat: No-one in Guinness PRO14 has made more metres than Dragons flyer Jordan Williams’425.
Did you know? Dragons’ last four matches have all been won by the home side on the day.
Dragons: Jordan Williams, Dafydd Howells, Adam Warren, Jarryd Sage, Jared Rosser, Josh Lewis, Rhodri Williams; Brok Harris, Elliot Dee, Leon Brown, Brandon Nansen, Cory Hill (c), Aaron Wainwright, Ollie Griffiths, Ross Moriarty
Replacements: Richard Hibbard, Ryan Bevington, Aaron Jarvis, Huw Taylor, Nic Cudd, Tavis Knoyle, Tyler Morgan, Will Talbot-Davies
Blues: Matthew Morgan, Owen Lane, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Jason Harris; Gareth Anscombe, Lloyd Williams; Brad Thyer, Kristian Dacey, Dmitri Arhip, George Earle, Josh Turnbull, Josh Navidi, Ellis Jenkins (capt), Nick Williams.
Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Rhys Gill, Dillon Lewis, Macauley Cook, Olly Robinson, Tomos Williams, Jarrod Evans, Garyn Smith.
At Rodney Parade, Newport, 5:15pm
TV: Live on Premier Sports and Eir Sport
Referee: Ian Davies (WRU, 75th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Gwyn Morris, Gareth Newman (both WRU)
Citing Commissioner: Dennis Jones (WRU)
TMO: Sean Brickell (WRU)
Owen Lane scored two tries as Cardiff Blues beat Dragons 23-15 in the all-Welsh derby.
A second-half fight-back from the Blues saw them come from behind to beat their rivals in what was an entertaining encounter at Rodney Parade.
The defeat means that the Dragons have now lost their last 22 fixtures against Welsh sides.
The Dragons had started brightly, but two second-half tries were enough for the Blues to claim victory. The Dragons made their early pressure pay off when Josh Lewis went over to put his team ahead.
The ball was worked from one side to the other, and after some good work from Jordan Williams, Josh Lewis was on-hand to score.
Lewis was given two bites at the cherry at converting but missed on both occasions, after Lane had charged too early – leading to the fly-half to be given a retake.
The try was well-deserved and came after Dragon’s captain Cory Hill had been held up at the line by the Blues defence and Lewis had missed a sixth-minute penalty.
The Dragons then took a 12-0 lead after Jared Rosser collected the ball after a great break and offload from Adam Warren to find Lewis, who spread the ball onto Rosser to score. Lewis then kicked the conversion.
The Blues worked their way back into late in the first-half. Willis Halaholo was denied a try by the TMO after collecting a kick through from Lloyd Williams but was adjudged not to have grounded the ball.
Moments later the Blues were awarded a try after Lane got back to his feet after being tackled by Lewis to go over smartly in the corner.
Early in the second-half, Gareth Anscombe cut the deficit for the Blues with a long-range penalty from just inside the Dragons half following a powerful Cardiff scrum.
Anscombe then kicked another long-range penalty to pull the Blues within one point, but the Dragons restored their four-point lead moments later after Williams kicked a penalty to make it 15-11.
Midway through the second-half, the Blues took the lead for the first time through Kristian Dacey following a driving line-out after Jarrod Evans decided to kick into the corner.
Blues started to take control and after Anscombe broke from deep, the ball was worked out wide to Lane to score his second try. Anscombe then kicked the conversion to secure the win.