Jack­man call­ing on his Dragons to over­throw Kings

South Wales Echo - - SPORTS -

BERNARD Jack­man wants the Dragons to pro­duce their best per­for­mance since he took over the coach­ing reins of the Gwent re­gion, when they face South­ern Kings in New­port tonight (7.35pm)

The for­mer Ire­land hooker copped flak from some pun­dits for mak­ing 13 changes to his team ahead of last week­end’s 52-25 Guin­ness PRO14 wal­lop­ing at Ul­ster.

Jack­man in­sisted he was giv­ing mem­bers of his squad ex­po­sure and a chance to prove they were up to the job with most of the side who had beaten Con­nacht stay­ing at home for strength and con­di­tion­ing work.

But his lead­ing lights are back for the Con­fer­ence B base­ment bat­tle with South African out-fit Kings bot­tom of the ta­ble af­ter be­ing de­feated in all of their four fix­tures.

Dragons need to se­cure vic­tory, prob­a­bly with a bonus point, to close in on fifth-placed Tre­viso and fourth-placed Ed­in­burgh.

“It’s huge – we want to make Rod­ney Pa­rade a fortress,” de­clared exLe­in­ster and Con­nacht star Jack­man. “We slipped up against Le­in­ster but I thought it was a much bet­ter per­for­mance against Con­nacht. The boys who played in that sec­ond game are fresh and the ma­jor­ity of them fea­ture against the Kings.

“They’ve had a two-week prepa­ra­tion for this game and I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing them go out there and put in our best per­for­mance of the sea­son.

“We want them to get the crowd in­volved again and feed off it be­cause the at­mos­phere against Con­nacht was fan­tas­tic.

“We pro­duced a dis­play which built a con­nec­tion with our sup­port­ers and that will be a goal again. We are try­ing to build a team the fans can re­late to and be a part of.”

Dragons are with­out for­mer Wales Un­der-20 No.8 star Harri Ked­die, who in­jured a shoul­der against Con­nacht and will be out for sev­eral months out fol­low­ing surgery.

Ol­lie Grif­fiths, James Ben­jamin and James Thomas are the only fit back-row op­tions with open­side flanker Nic Cudd side­lined longterm with a se­ri­ous knee in­jury and No.8 Rob­son Blake hav­ing suf­fered a col­lar­bone in­jury at Ul­ster.

For­mer cap­tain Lewis Evans is on the come­back trail from a pre-sea­son Achilles in­jury and is tar­get­ing an Oc­to­ber re­turn, open­side Nic Cudd is likely to be out for the sea­son be­cause of knee lig­a­ment dam­age and num­ber eight Rob­son Blake suf­fered a col­lar­bone in­jury in Belfast.

Max Wil­liams, 19, has ap­peared three times this sea­son while Len­non Greg­gains, 18, made his PRO14 de­but off the bench re­gional against Ul­ster while Aaron Wain­wright, 20, has been named in Jack­man’s squad for the Euro­pean Chal­lenge Cup.

Carl Meyer is at full-back against the Kings with South Africa in­ter­na­tional Zane Kirch­ner ex­pected to be side­lined for the rest of the year fol­low­ing an op­er­a­tion on the shoul­der he dis­lo­cated against Con­nacht.

Thomas is at blind­side flanker for Ked­die while Matthew Screech part­ners cap­tain Cory Hill at lock.

Kings coach Deon Davids has handed a start­ing place to Jacques Nel at cen­tre, vet­eran fin­isher Al­shaun Bock re­places Sibu­siso Sit­hole on the left wing and Godlen Masimla takes over at scrum-half from the in­jured Rudi van Rooyen.

Martin Dreyer starts at prop, Bobby De Wee at lock and for­mer Ze­bre player Dries Van Schalk­wyk at No.8 with Andile Nt­sila mov­ing to flanker and Jurie van Vu­uren com­ing in at No.7.

Dragons: C Meyer; A He­witt, T Mor­gan, J Dixon, H Amos; G Hen­son, S Pre­to­rius; B Har­ris, E Dee, L Brown, M Screech, C Hill (capt), J Thomas, J Ben­jamin, O Grif­fiths. Subs: E Shipp, T Davies, L Fair­brother, J Davies, A Wain­wright, D Blacker, A O’Brien, T Palamo.

South­ern Kings: M Banda; Y Penxe, J Nel, B Klaasen, A Bock; P Steyn de Wet, G Masimla; S Fer­reira, M Willemse (capt), M Dreyer, S Gre­eff, B de Wee, A Nt­sila, D van Schalk­wyk, J van Vu­uren. Subs: S Coet­zee, R de Klerk, E Swanepoel, L Mtyanda, K Ma­jola, R Gouws, O Zono, L Vulindlu.

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