Dragons prop Lee Harrison says the Welsh region face the toughest test of the season when Guinness Premiership leaders Bristol visit Rodney Parade on Friday night…

A place in the European Challenge Cup beckons for the winners and Harrison says the Dragons are relishing the chance to take on England’s finest and hunting revenge for their 11-7 defeat at the Memorial Stadium last October.

“It is a massive test for us on Friday night,” said Harrison.


“Bristol are currently top of the Guinness Premiership and have performed very well this season and will no doubt want to continue that against The Dragons.


“They are a good, combative side, however, we have top players of our own who are relishing Friday night’s game and the chance to play the best of the Premiership. Pitting yourself against the top players is what being a professional rugby player is all about and if we turn up on the night and play as we have been doing then there is no reason why we cannot get a result.”


The Dragons have initially announced a squad of 26 for the game with the starting XV and replacements being confirmed on Thursday. Included in the squad are Luke Charteris (cheek bone) and Ben Daly (calf) who will both undergo late fitness tests to determine whether they are fit for the game.


The Dragons have named one nineteen year old and three twenty year olds in the squad as they continue their policy of developing academy players and bringing them into the senior side.


Already this has paid dividends with Ashley Smith becoming a regular in the side and last week was awarded man of the match while Alex Walker is another youngster who has come through the system.


Aled Thomas has recovered from his knee infection to be included in the squad. Academy member Richard Wilkes and Newport’s Gethin Robinson have been drafted into the squad as front row cover should Ben Daly not be fit for the match.


Looking ahead to the crunch game Head Coach Paul Turner said, “We showed in the game at the Memorial Stadium that we can certainly go head-to-head and match them physically. Since that game they have recruited an All Black and two Super 14 players which has gone a long way to consolidating them at the top of the Guinness Premiership. We know if we can match them for physicality and play a little bit smarter then in front of our own crowd anything can happen.


“Their strengths are they are a tight knit squad full of players who are more than competent at the top level. They are guys who know how to win up front, half backs who understand what’s needed and complement the work of their forwards and have game breakers out wide.

“Our aim is to qualify for the quarterfinals of the Challenge Cup competition and to get a home draw, to achieve that we have to win on Friday night and we will be going all out to do that.

The performances over Christmas and New Year have been tremendous and if we show the same application, dedication and commitment against Bristol then we can add the scalp of the Guinness Premiership leaders to that of the current Heineken Cup champions which we got last weekend.”


The Dragons are undefeated at home since mid-September and have gained a point in all European Challenge Cup games to date where they have won three from four (getting a bonus point in all three games) and picked up a losing bonus point against Bristol at the Memorial Ground in October.