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Dragons v Cardiff team news as key players return to the fold

By Ben James

The Dragons will welcome back two key players as they bid to finally win at home against a Cardiff side that has yet to triumph away this season.

At the end of another tumultuous week in Welsh rugby, the two sides will go head to head at Rodney Parade this Friday - with little to play for in the URC other than the usual bragging rights that come with Welsh derbies.

And Dean Ryan's team will be boosted by the return of Wales hooker Elliot Dee and centre Jack Dixon, one of their strongest performers this season, to take on Cardiff. They're among three changes made by Ryan for the penultimate game of a woeful season for the Gwent side.

Read next: Willis Halaholo officially out of Wales tour and two guaranteed starters now 'touch and go'

The other sees back-row Ben Fry come into the starting line-up - days after signing a new contract with the Dragons. On the bench, prop Lloyd Fairbrother is set for his first appearance in a year, while Greg Bateman also returns to the bench to add front-row cover.

For Cardiff, it's an unchanged starting XV to the one that defeated Zebre last time out. Hooker Liam Belcher will mark his 50th first team appearance, while Lloyd Williams moves a step closer to 250 appearances for the Blue and Blacks.

The only change to the match-day squad sees club captain Josh Turnbull return to the bench, having been sidelined with a calf injury since March.

Something will have to give as the Dragons go in search of a first home win of the season, while Cardiff have yet to win on the road. However, Cardiff have won the last 12 meetings between the two sides.

Cardiff director of rugby, Dai Young, said: “We were pleased to secure a bonus-point victory over Zebre last week and we played really well in the first half. In the second-half we perhaps got a bit individualistic and drifted away from our structures, and we cannot afford to do that against the Dragons.

“This is a massive game for them, on their home patch, and they will be desperate to get one over their nearest rivals. They are a very physical, abrasive team so we will need to be at our best if we want to back up last week’s win.

“We have some continuity in selection and the opportunity to finish the season on a high, which is exactly what the boys are determined to do as we continue to build.

“There is never any lack of motivation for a Welsh derby but we also want to play an attacking brand of rugby and perform for the full 80 minutes.”

Dragons: Jordan Williams, Rio Dyer, Adam Warren, Jack Dixon, Jared Rosser, Will Reed, Gonzalo Bertranou; Aki Seiuli, Elliot Dee, Mesake Doge, Joe Davies, Ben Carter, Harri Keddie (c), Ben Fry, Ollie Griffiths

Replacements: Taylor Davies, Greg Bateman, Lloyd Fairbrother, Huw Taylor, Taine Basham, Rhodri Williams, Sam Davies, Josh Lewis

Cardiff Rugby: Matthew Morgan; Owen Lane, Rey Lee-Lo, Max Llewellyn, Theo Cabango: Rhys Priestland, Lloyd Williams; Rhys Carré, Liam Belcher, Dmitri Arhip, Seb Davies, Matthew Screech, James Botham, Josh Navidi (capt.), James Ratti

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Corey Domachowski, Dillon Lewis, Josh Turnbull, Ellis Jenkins, Ellis Bevan, Ben Thomas, Mason Grady

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Dive Deeper:
The three young bolters who may burst into 37-man Wales squad Pivac names for South Africa amid raft of injuries
The Wales boss will name his squad early next week but he has a host of injury problems to deal…
'Disgusting' Welsh derby incident sparks outrage in crowd as two players face bans
The derby match between Dragons and Cardiff was marred by two red cards
Wales face potential raft of pull-outs for South Africa tour as squad to be announced
It could be a nightmarish tour if all these players are out of contention
The new full-backs Wales are considering for South Africa tour including the most exciting option of the lot
There's little competition behind Liam Williams this summer, meaning some newer faces could get Wales call-ups
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Arsenal team news: Ben White hoping to return for key Tottenham north London derby showdown
Arsenal defender Ben White hopes to be available for Thursday’s crunch north London derby against Tottenham.
New young Welsh fly-half has 'mental future' and is already coaching at just 20
Will Reed produced an eye-catching display for the Dragons in the derby clash with Cardiff at Rodney Parade
Get all your news in one place