Tomkinson returns for Lions clash


Sio Tomkinson returns to the starting line-up as Dragons RFC face Emirates Lions in Round 8 of the BKT United Rugby Championship at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg on Sunday (kick-off 2pm UK).

The Men of Gwent make five changes from the starting line-up that defeated Zebre Parma in bonus point fashion last time out at Rodney Parade as they kick-off the second block of league fixtures.

Tomkinson is named on the wing while centre Jack Dixon returns to partner Steff Hughes in midfield.

Hooker James Benjamin will make his first start for the club up front. Elliot Dee misses the tour through injury. Ben Fry comes into the back row with Harri Keddie ruled out.

The final change is a call-up for scrum half Lewis Jones with Rhodri Williams (foot) ruled out of the tour opener.

Dragons Academy product Che Hope could make his club debut as a replacement. Josh Reynolds, Ellis Shipp and the returning Matthew Screech are also named on the bench alongside fit-again Jordan Williams.

Head Coach Dai Flanagan said: “We’re excited to be in South Africa. The pitches should suit what we are trying to do in attack and we’re just looking to express ourselves.

“There's an opportunity for certain players with the internationals away early on and I can't stress how excited we are as a group to see how we perform.

On the challenge of the Lions, Flanagan added: “They've really expanded their game. We all know about the power the South Africans have, but they have some subtleties with two really good outside halves and a scrum half who gives them energy. It is up to us to match it.

“We can't get too loose out there. We've got to contain and control. The altitude will be tough, but it's something most of us have experienced so it shouldn't be a surprise.

“We're excited to get back playing and it’s about staying in the fight. I experienced it last year with the Scarlets, when we had two different types of games.

“Against the Sharks we were in the fight until the end, but against the Bulls they blew us off the park early on. It's important we stay in that fight and that gives us the best chance to get a positive result.”

Dragons RFC: Angus O’Brien, David Richards, Steff Hughes, Jack Dixon, Sio Tomkinson, Sam Davies, Lewis Jones; Aki Seiuli, James Benjamin, Lloyd Fairbrother, Joe Davies, Sean Lonsdale, Aaron Wainwright, Ben Fry, Ross Moriarty (c)

Replacements: Ellis Shipp, Josh Reynolds, Chris Coleman, Matthew Screech, Huw Taylor, Che Hope, JJ Hanrahan, Jordan Williams

Unavailable: Elliot Dee (collarbone), Rob Evans (head knock), Lennon Greggains (finger), Ollie Griffiths (calf), Harri Keddie (muscular), George Nott (hand), Will Rowlands (shoulder), Jared Rosser (shoulder), Rhodri Williams (foot)

International duty: Ben Carter, Rio Dyer, Rhodri Jones, Bradley Roberts (all Wales)

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