Time to end away-day woes

South Wales Echo - - SPORT -

DRAGONS back-rower Lewis Evans says the re­gion can end their long-over­due wait for an away Guin­ness PRO14 win at Ze­bre today (1600BST).

Ben­rard Jack­man’s team have not tasted league suc­cess away from Rodney Pa­rade since March 2015.

But they came close last week­end, be­ing edged out 29-27 by Benet­ton in the first match of their Ital­ian dou­ble-header.

And that has given Evans hope Dragons can fi­nally end the drought.

He said: “We’ve stayed in Italy this week to pre­pare for to­mor­row’s game with Ze­bre and it’s still hard to be­lieve that we are still on a los­ing streak on the road in the Guin­ness PRO14.

“Going into the clos­ing stages at Benet­ton we looked good but un­for­tu­nately we put our­selves in a po­si­tion where a ref­eree’s de­ci­sion would have the fi­nal and un­for­tu­nately big­gest im­pact on the game.

“How­ever, if we play like we did in the sec­ond half then I am sure we can sign off with a win at Ze­bre be­fore pre­par­ing for our last game of the sea­son against the Scar­lets at Judge­ment Day.”

Dragons head coach Jack­man has made four changes for today’s game in L’Aquila, with scrum-half Char­lie Davies re­plac­ing Owain Leonard in the backs.

Changes in the for­wards see Luke Gar­rett be­ing given an op­por­tu­nity in the front row along­side Lloyd Fair­brother and El­liot Dee.

Lock Joe Davies moves into the start­ing XV to join skip­per Cory Hill in the boiler room, while Ry­nard Land­man moves into the back row to re­place Harri Ked­die af­ter he failed the re­turn-to-play pro­to­col. Land­man is joined by flanker Aaron Wain­wright and Evans at No.8.

Ze­bre head coach Michael Bradley has made five changes to the side that lost 41-6 to Le­in­ster last Satur­day in Dublin. But Bradley has been pleased with how the sea­son has gone so far.

He said: “In the over­all con­text of what we’re try­ing to do in Ze­bre, we’re rea­son­ably sat­is­fied with the sea­son and we know the di­rec­tion we want to go – we just need to get the re­cruit­ment right for next year and keep adding to that.”

The Ze­bre side is cap­tained by in­flu­en­tial lock Ge­orge Bi­agi and fea­tures eight play­ers that fea­tured for Italy against Wales in the Six Na­tions in Cardiff – livewire full­back Mat­teo Mi­nozzi, cen­tres Gi­ulio Bisegni and Tom­maso Castello, wing Mat­tia Bellini, fly-half Carlo Canna, scrum-halves Mar­cello Vi­oli and Guglielmo Palaz­zani and prop An­drea Lovotti.

The last six meet­ings be­tween the sides have been won by the hosts with Ze­bre win­ning with four-try bonuses in Parma in 2016 and 2017.

The Dragons won 14-13 at Ze­bre in Fe­bru­ary, 2013 thanks to a try by flanker Jevon Groves and nine points from the boot of fly-half St­ef­fan Jones.

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