GUINNESS PRO12: Dragons hand debut start to backrow Ollie Griffiths

Dragons' Sarel Pretorius starts against Ulster
Dragons' Sarel Pretorius starts against Ulster

Young gun Ollie Griffiths will make his first Guinness PRO12 start against Ulster at Rodney Parade on Sunday afternoon (KO 14:30).

The 20-year-old flanker has 10 appearances under his belt for the Dragons but will make his first PRO12 start for the Welsh Region in front of a home crowd.

The Wales U20 star, who was named Premiership side Newport RFC captain last season, is one of five personnel changes that have been made to the team that lost out to the Scarlets last weekend.

Fullback Carl Meyer gets the nod and joins the back three alongside wingers Ashton Hewitt and Nick Scott. The centre pairing remains unchanged for the third week running as Adam Hughes and Adam Warren retain their places. 23-year-old Dorian Jones is named as fly-half and is joined in the halfbacks by scrum half Sarel Pretorius.

The front row sees one change made to it as prop Shaun Knight joins Boris Stankovich and hooker Elliot Dee. The second row has one change made to it as Cory Hill joins Rynard Landman. The back row includes PRO12 debutant Ollie Griffiths who joins Ed Jackson and Taulupe Faletau.

The replacements bench has six changes made to it as Brok Harris, Matthew Screech, Lewis Evans, Charlie Davies, Jason Tovey and Ross Wardle join Rhys Buckley and Phil Price.

Director of Rugby, Lyn Jones understands how important performance is this weekend if the Dragons are to take their third consecutive win at Rodney Parade on Sunday. He commented: “We played some attractive rugby last season and the season before but so far we haven’t been able to get the ball through three pairs of hands.

“That’s something very much in our mind because if we are to be successful then we have to score at least 25 points. You are not going to do that by holding onto the ball all the time, the game has to have some width.

“It’s something we are aware of and something we are working towards improving – if we are going to beat Ulster we have got to play.”

Jones continued: “We didn’t kick smartly or chase well against the Scarlets and lost the kicking battle. Only one kick ended on a positive note for us.

“Ulster are the team in the league who kick the most and will drag the game into a kicking duel. We cannot afford to play rugby on the tail end of a really good kick.

“We have to play on the front foot when circumstances arise and need to be patient in the kicking battle.”

Dragons team to face Ulster

Carl Meyer, Ashton Hewitt, Adam Hughes, Adam Warren, Nick Scott, Dorian Jones, Sarel Pretorius; Boris Stankovich, Elliot Dee, Shaun Knight, Cory Hill, Rynard Landman ©, Ed Jackson, Ollie Griffiths, Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Rhys Buckley, Phil Price, Brok Harris, Matthew Screech, Lewis Evans, Charlie Davies, Jason Tovey, Ross Wardle.