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The Dragons face the second match of five successive home games Friday night after kicking off their homecoming December with a thrilling ten try tie with Ulster. Head Coach Bernard Jackman is keen for his charges to build on last week's PRO14 performance against the Russians.

"We’ve had a tough run of fixtures," said Jackman, "so we were looking to build up to the home games which we call Test weeks.

"Coming off the back of the poor performance in Leinster created an edge for us in the build up to last week and we challenged each other to be better and that led to a much better performance against Ulster.

"There’s still plenty of areas to we felt we can do better in but we showed character and there were some positives. 

"We want to win our home games, but the result against Ulster wasn’t that important it was about showing grit and we need to make that a constant in our game along with improving our skills, there’s still plenty to work on.

"Five home games in a row is exciting and means we don’t have to travel, can put more work in and recover better. Hopefully we can feel the benefit of that and these two European games will put us in the right place."

Following recent speculation, Jackman was again asked about George North and the possibility of him following Ross Moriarty into the Dragons' home dressing room for next season as well as other recent acquisitions.

"There’s no progress on George North, but the plan is to meet him over Christmas. But he’s in no rush to meet any of us so can take his time and hopefully our project will be of interest to him. He’s a world class player and a world class bloke." 

In addition to Moriarty's signing, Jackman has high hopes for the impact Rhodri Williams can quickly have for the Dragons with Williams' international aspirations a clear target for player and his coach.

"We announced Rhodri Williams about a month ago from Bristol and I think he’s going to be a cracking signing. He’s coming back to Wales a far better player than when he left and he was a good player then. Ross is a good signing, but Rhodri is coup for us and if he can be first choice for Dragons then he can force his way into World Cup reckoning. 

"We’ve but a lot of effort in our recruitment, we've been forensic in our approach and we’ve done lots of due diligence on these players. Hopefully we’ll drip feed more signings in and with the retention we’re doing too we’ll be a different squad next season from talent development within or attraction from outside."

"Given the way we play, a high tempo attacking game, whoever plays nine for the Dragons will be putting their hand forward for Wales."

Back to this season and the Dragons have had to use inexperienced players this season, but there's no let up in the schedule with such a crucial run of games ahead which could see the Dragons push for a quarter final spot in Europe and accelerate up the league ladder for an outside chance at a play-off spot in the Guinness Pro14. However, Jackman is looking further ahead than the end of 2017/18 campaign.

"We’ve got a busy period with Newcastle next week and then the Welsh derbies we’re exciting about over Christmas and in to January. 

"Because of injuries this season we’ve had to throw youngsters in together. Against Ulster we gave six players their debut, against Leinster five, Munster four I think it was, so this season we’ve learnt the hard way, but they’ve got game time and they’ve realized the level they need to get to.
"If you look at the core group of youngsters there’s a huge amount of young local players in the group and regardless of their age at some point they need to become the senior players. 

"Now these players are showing more maturity and taking on more responsibility. 

"Our short term plan this year is to be really hyper competitive at home, bring through our young players and increase the intensity so we can play for 80 minutes but also make our players more robust. The short term problem with that is having more injuries but its about where we can be next year and the year after."

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Friday December 21

Cardiff Blues


Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff

KO 7:35 PM

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