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Magners Preview: Newport Gwent Dragons v Connacht

Magners Preview: Newport Gwent Dragons v Connacht

After five successive Magners League defeats, Connacht travel to Rodney Parade in desperate need of a win. But the omens are not good – the last seven meetings between Connacht and the Dragons have all gone the way of the home side.

MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, April 18

NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS v CONNACHT, Rodney Parade, 7.10pm (live BBC Wales/Setanta Sports Ireland)

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Team News: Connacht have made one change to their side ahead of their final away match in the Magners League.

Coach Michael Bradley has chosen Troy Nathan at out-half for his first start for the province after having come off the bench and impressed in two of Connacht’s previous three outings.

New Zealander Nathan, who is Irish qualified, has been playing most of his rugby this season for Connemara in AIB League Division Three.

Otherwise, the Connacht team remains unchanged from that which played Ulster last week.

There are eight players currently on the province’s injury list, including Tim Donnelly (shoulder), John Hearty (hip), Brian McGovern (hamstring), John Lyne (hand), Ray Ofisa (arm), Conor O’Loughlin (shoulder), Michael Swift (kidney) and Aidan Wynne (hamstring).

Meanwhile, Newport Gwent Dragons coach Paul Turner has made five changes to the team that started the 20-14 loss to the Glasgow Warriors on March 30.

Ceri Sweeney returns at out-half, Paul Emerick replaces injured centre Ashley Smith and Martyn Thomas comes in at full-back with Kevin Morgan moving to the replacements bench.

In the forwards, Adam Black returns pending a fitness test and Michael Owen replaces Jamie Ringer at number 8, with Ringer added to the bench.

NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS: Martyn Thomas; Gareth Wyatt, Paul Emerick, Rhodri Gomer-Davies, Richard Mustoe; Ceri Sweeney, Andrew Williams; Adam Black/Dai Pattison, Steve Jones, Rhys Thomas, Adam Jones, Luke Charteris, Colin Charvis (capt), Joe Bearman, Michael Owen.

Replacements: Ben Daly, Dai Pattison/Lee Harrison, Andy Hall, Jamie Ringer, Jason Tovey, Kevin Morgan, Wayne Evans.

CONNACHT: Gavin Duffy; Matt Mostyn, Mel Deane, Keith Matthews, Danny Riordan; Troy Nathan, Conor McPhillips; Brett Wilkinson, Adrian Flavin, Robbie Morris, David Gannon, Andrew Farley (capt), John Muldoon, Johnny O’Connor, Colm Rigney.

Replacements: John Fogarty, Ronan Loughney, Andrew Browne, Liam Casserly, Robbie Shaw, Andy Dunne, Darren Yapp.

Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)

Say What: Joe Bearman (Newport Gwent Dragons) – “Training has been going very well this week and we’ve worked on a lot of our weaknesses. That work will hopefully show on the pitch on Friday night against Connacht.

“I’m very much looking forward to the challenge as we look to accumulate more points and to end the season on a high.”

Michael Bradley (Connacht) – “Having watched the Dragons over the last couple of matches, they’ve played a more expansive game so they’re developing all the time.

“From our point of view we have to restrict their opportunities to put width on the ball.

“In doing so that might create opportunities for ourselves in terms of turnovers and eventually getting into a winning position in the match.

“From our point of view we have to keep varying our game. We’re hoping for a dry day as we’ve played our last couple of matches in difficult conditions in particular against the home provinces.

“It’ll be nice to get a ‘top of the ground’ type of game and I think both sides will be looking to put width on the game and, on that basis, it should make for an exciting encounter.”

Top Scorers: 2007/08 Magners League – Points: Newport Gwent Dragons: Aled Thomas 55; Connacht: Tim Donnelly 82; Tries: Newport Gwent Dragons: Gareth Wyatt 3; Connacht: Robbie Morris, Conor O’Loughlin, Danny Riordan 2 each.


Sunday, November 23, 2003 – Newport Gwent Dragons 28 Connacht 19, Rodney Parade
Saturday, May 1, 2004 – Connacht 14 Newport Gwent Dragons 32, The Sportsground
Sunday, November 28, 2004 – Connacht 19 Newport Gwent Dragons 14, The Sportsground
Saturday, April 16, 2005 – Newport Gwent Dragons 24 Connacht 19, Rodney Parade
Friday, January 6, 2006 – Newport Gwent Dragons 27 Connacht 19, Rodney Parade
Saturday, April 15, 2006 – Connacht 15 Newport Gwent Dragons 10, The Sportsground
Friday, October 13, 2006 – Connacht 16 Newport Gwent Dragons 9, The Sportsground
Friday, May 4, 2007 – Newport Gwent Dragons 23 Connacht 0, Rodney Parade
Friday, September 21, 2007 – Connacht 22 Newport Gwent Dragons 7, The Sportsground


– The Newport Gwent Dragons are without a victory in their last five matches since beating Glasgow Warriors 18-16 at Firhill on January 4

– The Dragons have won just one game at Rodney Parade since October – they were 15-13 winners over the Llanelli Scarlets in the Magners League on New Year’s Day

– Connacht have suffered six straight defeats since their 60-0 win in Valladolid against Cetransa El Salvador in the European Challenge Cup on January 13

– The westerners have not won in Wales since their 10-9 victory over the Ospreys at the Gnoll on November 21, 2004

– The last seven clashes between the two sides have all gone the way of the home team on the day, while Connacht have not won at Rodney Parade since a 16-14 league win over Newport RFC in September 2001