Time to end away-day woes
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.