Dragons face up to Dan again

South Wales Echo - - Sport - ROB LLOYD Rugby cor­re­spon­dent [email protected]­line.co.uk

DAN Big­gar will line up against the Dragons for a third time this sea­son af­ter be­ing named in the Northamp­ton side to take on the men of Gwent at Franklin’s Gar­dens to­day (3pm).

Big­gar has al­ready fea­tured in a pre­sea­son out­ing and Oc­to­ber’s round two Chal­lenge Cup tie at Rod­ney Pa­rade and is in­cluded in a strong line-up for the Euro­pean clash in the East Mid­lands.

The for­mer Ospreys favourite has re­turned to the Saints on the back of an im­pres­sive au­tumn se­ries with Wales and will hope to con­tinue that form as he looks to oust Gareth An­scombe from the No.10 jersey for the Six Nations.

Both the Dragons and Saints have re­acted to league de­feats last week­end by mak­ing whole­sale changes.

Bernard Jack­man has made eight in all fol­low­ing his side’s 59-10 Le­in­ster hu­mil­i­a­tion and with one eye on the fes­tive der­bies has opted to rest the ma­jor­ity of his Wales squad mem­bers.

There are 10 changes to the Saints line-up, al­though head coach Chris Boyd is still able to field a for­mi­da­ble side that in­cludes Eng­land in­ter­na­tion­als Luther Bur­rell, Tom Wood and Teimana Har­ri­son, jug­ger­naut wing Taqele Nai­yar­a­voro and All Blacks prop Ben Franks.

While Ross Mo­ri­arty, Cory Hill, Tyler Mor­gan, Aaron Wain­wright, El­liot Dee and the in­jured Leon Brown are miss­ing, Hal­lam Amos is in­cluded and switches to his pre­ferred full-back spot.

Ar­wel Rob­son was due to start at 10, but has picked up a ham­string is­sue, so Josh Lewis re­turns.

Up front, Samoan sec­ond row Bran­don Nansen re­places Ry­nard Land­man, while Nic Cudd slots in along­side Ol­lie Grif­fiths and Har­ri­son Ked­die in the back row.

Richard Hib­bard con­tin­ues to lead the side from hooker.

The Dragons were well beaten 34-21 by the Saints in New­port and are fac­ing a ma­jor task to make the knock­out stages with two matches still to come against French gi­ants and tour­na­ment favourites Cler­mont Au­vergne.

“It will be an in­cred­i­ble tough game as Northamp­ton Saints have lots of qual­ity,” said Jack­man, who re­turns to sta­dium duty fol­low­ing his two-week ground sus­pen­sion.

“How­ever, we want to bounce back from last week’s dis­ap­point­ing dis­play and it’s an op­por­tu­nity to show the char­ac­ter in the squad.”

Cen­tre Jack Dixon and prop Lloyd Fair­brother will reach a cen­tury of Dragons ap­pear­ances at Franklin’s Gar­dens.

G Fur­bank; O Sleightholme, R Hutchin­son, L Bur­rell, T Nai­yar­a­voro; D Big­gar, A Mitchell; A Waller (capt), J Fish, B Franks, A Ratu­ni­yarawa, A Moon, J Gibson, T Wood, T Har­ri­son. Reps: R Mar­shall, W Davis, E Pain­ter, D Rib­bans, M Eadie, C Reinach, F Stra­chan, A Kell­away,

Dragons: H Amos; D How­ells, A War­ren, J Dixon, Z Kirch­ner; J Lewis, T Knoyle; R Bev­ing­ton, R Hib­bard (capt), L Fair­brother, B Nansen, L Evans, H Ked­die, N Cudd, O Grif­fiths. Reps: R Lawrence, A Jarvis, N Thomas, M Screech, H Taylor, J Ben­jamin, R Davies, J Wil­liams.

Thomas Charabas (Fra).

Northamp­ton: Ref­eree:

Dan Big­gar is back with his club Northamp­ton

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