Match Preview | Dragons
A must-win match-up awaits Glasgow Warriors this Sunday, as Danny Wilson’s men travel to Wales to take on the Dragons in a crucial Conference A clash.
The Warriors know that only a win will keep their top-three hopes alive, as they continue their pursuit of a place in the 2021/22 Heineken Champions Cup.
With pitch work taking place at Rodney Parade, Sunday’s fixture will take place in the grand surroundings of the Principality Stadium in Cardiff following the Dragons’ temporary adoption of the venue as their new home.
Regardless of the stage, however, Wilson’s men know that there can be no underestimating their Welsh counterparts if their European dream is to remain attainable.
Here’s how the Dragons stack up ahead of this weekend’s encounter:
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Dragons form guide
Dean Ryan’s side currently occupy fifth place in Conference A, four points behind the Warriors and 11 points away from the all-important third position currently held by the Ospreys.
The men from Newport endured a tough start to the 2020/21 campaign, with a 26-18 victory over Zebre their only win in their opening five fixtures.
Back-to-back victories over Glasgow and Benetton re-established them as Conference A European contenders, yet a run of five successive defeats put a dent in their aspirations.
Ryan’s men proved how dangerous they can be with an impressive 31-20 triumph over Welsh rivals the Ospreys, before pushing Ulster all the way in a 26-22 defeat last time out.
Welsh international second-rower Cory Hill was the headline departure from Rodney Parade in the summer of 2020, as the 29-year-old made the short switch to Welsh rivals Cardiff Blues.
Tyler Morgan was another to join a cross-country rival when the centre made the move to the Scarlets, whilst back-rower Nick Cudd bade farewell to Rodney Parade at the expiration of his contract.
Two Dragons elected to move across the English Channel, with Jacob Botica and Brendan Nansen joining Rennes and Brive respectively.
It was with their recruitment that the Dragons caught the eye over the off-season, with Ryan luring Wales centre Nick Tompkins to Rodney Parade on a season-long loan from the relegated Saracens.
Second-rower Joe Maksymiw arrived from Connacht to bolster the engine room, whilst the experienced head of Jamie Roberts returned to Wales after a spell in Super Rugby with the Stormers.
Argentinian international scrum-half Gonzalo Bertranou and number eight Dan Baker were later added on short-term deals, and academy prospects Ben Fry and Ben Carter have impressed since being promoted to the senior squad.
Ones to watch
Such has been Roberts’ form this season, several pundits were tipping him for a shock return to the Welsh international setup prior to the Guinness Six Nations. The 34-year-old centre has been rolling back the years with his powerful running lines, as well as offering a wise head in a youthful Dragons back-line.
Whilst the Dragons might have blown hot and cold this season, winger Jonah Holmes finds himself in a rich vein of form heading into this weekend. The Welsh international has six tries in 10 matches this campaign, including a brace away to Zebre earlier this month.
A product of the Dragons academy, 24-year-old Harrison Keddie has enhanced his growing reputation over the course of 2020/21. Comfortable across the back-row, his direct ball-carrying offers a real physical edge to the Dragons attack.
It was the Dragons who claimed a dramatic victory the last time these two teams met, after Brandon Thomson’s 84th minute conversion cannoned off the post to give the Welsh side a 23-22 win at Scotstoun.
Tries from Fotu Lokotui, Sean Kennedy and Johnny Matthews ultimately proved in vain, as a Sam Davies-inspired visitors took the victory under the floodlights.
It was a different story in February 2019, as a Player of the Match-winning performance from Jamie Dobie spearheaded a 34-19 victory for Glasgow at Scotstoun.
Grant Stewart grabbed a brace of tries for the Dave Rennie-led Warriors, with Tim Swinson, Huw Jones and Mesu Dolokoto also crossing the whitewash on a windswept evening in Glasgow’s west end.
Daniel Jones will take charge of Sunday’s clash at the Principality Stadium, his 34th match as referee in the Guinness PRO14.
Aled Evans and Gwyn Morris will be on the touchlines as his assistants, with Sean Brickell on hand as the Television Match Official as and when required.
The match is live on Premier Sports 2 this Sunday, kicking off at 3pm.
You can follow all the build-up and action as it happens in our Live Match Centre – head to glasgowwarriors.org approximately an hour before kick-off and join us there.