5 Dec, 14:49
The Ireland U19 squad to face Australia Schools at Ravenhill on Saturday 14th December has been announced.
The Dragons are unbeaten in twelve home matches since their formation from the Newport and Ebbw Vale clubs. And their form thus far in the Celtic League isn't too shabby either. They've beaten Glasgow and Llanelli, keeping the latter scoreless - a very rare event. They were surprisingly beaten, though, by Cardiff in the second round of matches. With a match less played than Leinster, they are six points behind the visitors, so could close significantly on them with a win.
The Dragons did very nicely out of the Warriors fire sale, picking up a more than useful halfback pairing in Gareth Cooper and Ceri Sweeney. Michael Owen, playing at no. 8 despite being regularly selected in the second row for Wales, offers ball carrying ability up front. Rod Snow, the Canadian international prop, has a try-scoring habit, and the second row pairing of local boy Ian Gough and Peter Sidoli will need some subduing.
The naming of O'Driscoll, O'Kelly et al will really spark the local passions and Rodney Parade can be expected to resemble a cauldron this evening. One match-up that is being eagerly awaited is the head to head between Brian O'Driscoll and Percy Montgomery at outside centre.
The return of Declan Kidney to the ground where he was so briefly in charge is something that both the man and the locals are looking forward to. In times of such acrimony over player/coaching movements in big time sport, it was refreshing to see such maturity in how the Dragons handled the situation.
Last year the home side won out in each of two high-scoring league fixtures. The Dragons won comfortably 35-14 at Rodney Parade, while at Donnybrook Leinster took out the frustrations of internal divisions in the second half in beating The Dragons 56-39.
Leinster, on paper, look to have the firepower to further extend their unbeaten run and put one over on the Welsh for the first time by an Irish side in this year's campaign. But it will require that they limit the damage in the early period of the match, as players who haven't played yet this season get their second wind and a level of comfort with the situation.