Emirates Lions Desperate For Win Against Dragons RFC

 

In the EPCR Challenge Cup, the Emirates Lions will give everything to register a victory against the Dragons at the CCB Centre for Sporting Excellence in Ystrad Mynach at 15h00 (SA Time) to retain their place in the top six in Pool B to qualify for the playoffs.

Only two Pool B sides have confirmed their progression to the knockout stage ahead of this weekend, with Dragons and Emirates Lions currently level on eight points, occupying two of the remaining four qualification spots.

The teams have both won one, drawn one and lost one so far in the competition. The draw was in the return fixture, in the opening round of the campaign, as the two sides could not be separated, 31-31 in Johannesburg.

Dragons’ win came in Round 3, beating Section Paloise 21-15 on the road last weekend, while Emirates Lions look to bounce back from a 17-7 defeat at Stade Français Paris.

Section Paloise and the Toyota Cheetahs, however, trail by only two points, which will add to the pressure on the Emirates Lions going into this encounter.

The visitors have been more effective on defence in the competition, and they will look to capitalise on that when the sides meet, but the Emirates Lions will have their 31-31 draw in their last meeting in the back of their minds when they take the field, which will set the scene for a gripping clash.

Prediction: Dragons RFC by 5

Ross Moriarty will play his 50th game for Dragons RFC. With a place in the knockout stages on the line, the Men of Gwent make three changes to the side that impressively defeated Section Paloise in France last weekend.

Moriarty is recalled at Number Eight to make his milestone appearance while there is also a return for Ben Carter in the second row.

The final change to the starting line-up is a place for prop Lloyd Fairbrother.

Prop Leon Brown – this week named in the Wales squad for the upcoming Six Nations– returns among the replacements and is set for his first appearance since April last year.

Prop Aki Seiuli and scrum half Rhodri Williams also feature on the bench.

Simon Cross, Defence Coach at Dragons RFC, said: “It’s going to be an unbelievably physical test against the Lions.

“We had two difficult games with them in South Africa, but we know if we get our bits right, we can get the result we need.

“It’s now about backing up that memorable win away from home in France with a solid and tough performance back on home soil.

“We fancy anyone at home. In front of our crowd, we are a tough team to break down,” he added.

“We know a lot about the Lions and it’s about physicality this weekend. We’ve got to make sure, as a group, we can be as physical as we were against Pau.

“I have no doubt that the team we’ve picked, and the bench that we have got, have the capability of winning this big game.”

Emirates Lions' Flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse has recovered from the ankle niggle he suffered two weeks ago against Munster and take his place in the flyhalf position. The Junior Springbok partners with Andre Warner who gets his chance as the starting scrumhalf with the nuggety Morne van den Berg providing cover on the bench.

Elsewhere, hookers Michael van Vuuren and PJ Botha swop jersey numbers, with the former getting an opportunity in the starting XV.

Emirates Lions Forwards Coach Albert van den Berg talking ahead of Sunday:

“We can take confidence from the fact that we have not lost to the Dragons in our last three encounters across all competitions.”

“If you look at our recent games, one of the things we can work on is limiting our unforced errors coupled with decision-making at crucial times.”

“We tend to do a lot playing but don’t get the points for it. So, if we can change that, then we increase our chances of a positive result. Dragons are a good side who’ve shown good improvement, so we need to be sharp come Sunday afternoon,” he concluded.

Teams:

Dragons RFC: 15. Jordan Williams, 14. Rio Dyer, 13. Steff Hughes (c), 12. Max Clark, 11. Ashton Hewitt, 10. Will Reed, 9. Lewis Jones, 8. Ross Moriarty, 7. Taine Basham, 6. George Nott, 5. Ben Carter, 4. Joe Davies, 3. Lloyd Fairbrother, 2. Bradley Roberts, 1. Rob Evans. Replacements: 16. Brodie Coghlan, 17. Aki Seiuli, 18. Leon Brown, 19. Sean Lonsdale, 20. Aaron Wainwright, 21. Rhodri Williams, 22. JJ Hanrahan, 23. Jack Dixon.

Emirates Lions: 15. Andries Coetzee, 14. Quan Horn, 13. Henco van Wyk, 12. Marius Louw (c), 11. Edwill van der Merwe, 10. Jordan Hendrikse, 9. André Warner, 8. Emmanuel Tshituka, 7. Emile van Heerden, 6. Jaco Kriel, 5. Darrien Landsberg, 4. Willem Alberts, 3. Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 2. Michael van Vuuren, 1. JP Smith. Replacements: 16. PJ Botha, 17. Morgan Naude, 18. Ruan Smith, 19. Pieter Jansen van Vuren, 20. Ruhan Straeuli, 21. JC Pretorius, 22. Morné van den Berg, 23. Rynhardt Jonker.