Mon 5 Dec 2022 | 01:05

Dragons on Lions: 'We can't be surprised with what's coming'

Dragons on Lions: 'We can't be surprised with what's coming'
Mon 5 Dec 2022 | 01:05
Dragons on Lions: 'We can't be surprised with what's coming'
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Sweet revenge will be at the forefront for the Dragons, when they face the Lions in the opening round of the European Challenge Cup.

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It will be another huge physical test when they run out at Ellis Park in Johannesburg this coming Saturday.

The fixture is the second of three encounters between the two sides in two months.

The Welsh side was beaten 33-25 by the Lions in a United Rugby Championship Round Eight outing followed by another narrow 26-34 loss to Stormers last weekend.

Those two matches gave them a clear vision of what to expect when the European season kicks off this week.

In both games, the Dragons put up a real fight.

However, their slow start in the first half in both matches saw the South African teams race into an early lead – trailing 6-13 on the half-hour mark against the Lions and 0-28 against the Stormers in the same period.

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Speaking to reporters, Dragons flyhalf John Hanrahan acknowledged the enormity of the task they face trying to turn their fortunes around against the Lions.

He urged his teammates not to shy away from the challenge.

“We can’t be surprised with what is coming,” Harahan said, adding: “When in South Africa, the Lions are prominent they are strong, they are going to come at you and are very confrontational.

“I think if you shy away from that, it is going to be a very long day for you.

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“So we have to meet them upfront and that is our challenge.”

‘A healthy squad’

Dragons coach Dai Flanagan revealed loosehead Rhodri Jones and lock Ben Carter will join the Dragons while prop Rob Evans and wing Jared Rosser have been given the all-clear after head and shoulder injuries respectively.

The coach also conceded that there will be some personnel changes for the Challange Cup clash.

“There will be a bit more rotation because we want a healthy squad and for boys to experience game time on this tour,” Flanagan said.

“Going forward, the [Welsh] derbies and Bulls will be an opportunity for us to say: ‘This is us’.

“I have been proud of how the squad has come together, they are disappointed with the outcomes but this is a three-week process as a group.

“I have been clear with them that I believe we have a strong squad that needs to develop.

“My job is to give opportunities because players have earnt them through their training.”

The Challenge Cup game is at Ellis Park this Saturday, December 1o, and then the Dragons host the Lions at Rodney Parade in late January.

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@rugby365com

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