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Dragons will travel to Franklin’s Gardens (kick-off 3pm) without six of the region’s Wales internationals after they were given scheduled time off following autumn exploits.

However, Backs Coach Maddocks is keen for the players coming in to really impress as Dragons look to bounce back from the heavy home loss to Leinster.

“There are boys coming back in and we will give them opportunities,” said Maddocks. “This will be a chance to come in and really put their hand up.

“They did exceptionally well against Edinburgh and we’ve all got confidence in them to step into the roles. They get another go in this game.

None of the Welsh boys will be playing at the weekend, they are due time off,” added Maddocks. “We have to allocate the time off for them, that’s part of the agreement (with the Welsh Rugby Union). We have to factor in which games.

“We need to make sure we have everybody available for the Guinness PRO14 games, that’s the priority and that’s when we want them.

“They have just come back from international duty and you can’t keep them going again for another block of three games. We have to look after them.”

Dragons face a Northampton side they know well after two games already this season and one that is also hurting after a late defeat to Newcastle Falcons in the Gallagher Premiership.

“They are a tough side and a good side,” said Maddocks. “They have been up and down so it will be a good competition, with both teams trying to restore some pride.

“They have a lot of internationals and the will have targeted this game to move into the next stage of the competition.

“They have a big pack, physically are big, so we expect a real battle up front.

“Northampton came out all guns blazing at Rodney Parade, where they had control up front and in the half backs, that is where their strengths are.”

Dragons return to Rodney Parade for the final Welsh derby of 2018 against the Ospreys on December 30. 

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