Dragons RFC 24 - 26 Cardiff Blues
Sat 06 May 17:15 Constructaquote Stadium (Virginia Park) Att: 5,167 Ref: Ian Davies Guinness Pro12

Preview: Newport Gwent Dragons v Cardiff Blues

Fri 5 May 2017 15:14 Preview: Newport Gwent Dragons v Cardiff Blues
Danny Wilson’s side go into the clash on the back of victories against Ospreys and Zebre, and will look to carry further momentum into the Champions Cup qualification play-off in two weeks time. 

The Blues look destined for a trip to France, to take on the Top 14’s seventh-placed side, in the play-off.

A win at Constructaquote Stadium would see Wales’ Capital Region claim their third win in six regional derby games.

Five changes has been made to to the side that beat Zebre at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park last week. 

Sion Bennett, fresh from signing a long-term contract with Wales’ Capital Region, replaces Josh Navidi and combines with Nick Williams and captain Ellis Jenkins in the back row.

Meanwhile, two changes have been made in the front row, as Corey Domachowski and Matthew Rees come into the starting XV, replacing Rhys Gill and Kristian Dacey respectively.

In the backs, Matthew Morgan and Lloyd Williams are recalled to the starting line-up in place of Aled Summerhill and Tomos Williams. 

Willis Halaholo and Rey Lee-Lo continue their formidable partnership in midfield, while Alex Cuthbert, who keeps his place on the wing, is set for his 99th appearance.

What They Said

Danny Wilson has challenged his Cardiff Blues side to finish the Guinness PRO12 season on a high, in what he expects to be a typically fierce Welsh derby.

The Cardiff Blues head coach is also excited for the "unique" challenge facing his side at Caerphilly's Constructaquote Stadium.

"There was a first-half performance where we scored 23-points, we were playing some reasonable stuff and scored some good tries. We missed the opportunity to score a couple of others and then in the second-half we failed to perform at that level.

"Now we want to finish with an away win in Caerphilly. They will be fired up, there's no doubt about that. They have some good quality rugby players, no matter how good or bad your form is, derbies are different. 

"It's a different intensity and you certainly can't take any opposition lightly. Even this year, there have been some that have gone to form in derbies and others have gone against form.

"We will need to rock up mentally in the right place and fully anticipate a tough day in Caerphilly but hopefully one we can come out on top of.

"The atmosphere could be electric and I hope people turn up - both Blues and Dragons fans - and fill the ground for the last game of the season.

"It's a unique position for the Dragons and Cardiff Blues. Rodney Parade drums up quite an atmosphere for home games, which is a big advantage for the Dragons and it will be interesting to see how Caerphilly goes.

"It will be quite a tightly-packed ground, it holds about 6,000, which I'm guessing they will fill and if you get 6,000 in a small ground the atmosphere will be great."

Meanwhile, lock Jarrad Hoeata expects a tough breakdown battle at Caerphilly and insists his side's focus remains on Saturday's fixture, despite the crucial European play-offs fast-approaching.

"I'm looking forward to it, it's something different, it's our last league game and the Dragons will be up for it because it's their final. We've got this game and then we're onto the play-offs but our focus is solely on finishing the league as we should.

"They are really tough; they get a bit of stick but they are really tough to play. They have some top players, they make a mess of the breakdown and try to slow you down and that's exactly what we don't want. 

"We want quick ball, to play with pace and get it wide and they want to stop that. It will be a big challenge all around the ruck.

"We just want to finish the PRO12 season off with a good win. After our result against the Ospreys it would be a shame to let this one slip and not finish it off the way we have been playing in the last few weeks.

"We have to put the second-half against Zebre to bed and concentrate on how well we have been playing and making sure we rip into the Dragons."

Matthew Morgan, who previously played at Caerphilly in an under-11's trial match, insists his side must perform consistently for the full 80-minutes against their east-Wales neighbours.

 "They are a very physical side, they have got better over the last couple of weeks and are playing a bit of rugby.

"When you watch them they chuck the ball about and play more rugby compared to Christmas time.

"But we're focussing on ourselves and what we have been good at throughout the season, and hopefully the forwards can give the backs a platform so we can go out and play rugby."

He added: "Against the Ospreys it was a great 80-minute performance and then against Zebre it was a good first half and second-half wasn't so great. It's just about putting all of that together on Saturday."

"I played there (Caerphilly) in a trial game at under-11s! I suppose it will be a bit like playing in some of the English Championship grounds but I'm looking forward to it."