They may be trailing by 19 points and separated by nine clubs in the League table but that will count for nothing when Newport Gwent Dragons take on Munster tonight in the Magners League clash at Rodney Parade 97.05).
Munster will be mindful that they arrived here last year in similar good health only to be dispatched 31-22 by the home side and this time around the Dragons will be keen to put that uncharacteristic display against Leinster last time out. They coughed up ball they normally wouldn't, a trend that has crept into their game as their coach Paul Turner admitted. “As a team we have lacked cohesion, we need to look after the ball better. I’m pleased with our defensive structure which has improved but we can’t miss one on one tackles like we did in Dublin last week and get away with it.”
They have their Welsh squad pair wing Aled Brew and number 8 Toby Faletau back for tonight's game and not surprisingly both are included in the starting XV as is centre Tom Riley who missed the Leinster game with a hand injury. Scott Morgan has been withdrawn because of a slight neck injury, his place going to the experienced Luke Charteris while Jonathan Evans returns to the replacement bench from injury to provide the back-up at scrum-half.
For their part Munster show just one change to their backline from last weekend, Tomas O'Leary returning from injury taking over from Duncan Williams who injured an ankle in that game against Scarlets.
Up front, there is a first Magners League start for Dave Ryan, brother of Timmy, while John Hayes replaces Peter Borlase who is named on the bench and Tommy O'Donnell is preferred to Peter O'Mahony at blindside.
Munster arrived in Newport yesterday and are billetted in the Celtic Manor Hotel where this afternoon the first flurries of snow swept in but conditions are expected to be cold and dry this evening come match time with part of the Rodney Parade pitch covered all day to protect from frost.
Munster: S Deasy: D Howlett, B Murphy, S Tuitupou, D Hurley; P Warwick, T O'Leary; D Ryan, M Sherry, J Hayes; B Holland, I Nagle; T O'Donnell, N Ronan, J Coughlan. Replacements: S Henry, W du Preez, P Borlase; B Hayes, P O'Mahony, C Murray, L Mafi, T Gleeson.
Newport Gwent Dragons: P Leach; A Hughes, T Riley, A Smith, A Brew; J Tovey, W Evans, P Price; T Willis (captain), N Hall, L Charteris, R Sidoli, L Evans, T Faletau, G Thomas. Replacements: L Burns, B Castle, H Gustafson, A Jones, H Ellis, J Evans, M Jones, T Cheeseman.