Shoulder injury sidelines impressive Ospreys flanker Justin Tipuric
JUSTIN Tipuric will miss the Ospreys's visit to Rodney Parade this evening.
The flanker, so impressive in the defeat of the Scarlets on Boxing Day, is sidelined with a shoulder injury.
Sam Lewis fills in at No. 7 in his absence, alongside Joe Bearman and Ryan Jones in the back row.
The reigning Pro12 champions have named a strong team as they look to end their miserable record at the Dragons.
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Ryan Bevington, Richard Hibbard and Adam Jones — the front row that did so much to put the Scarlets on the back foot last week — team up again, with Dan Biggar and Kahn Fotuali'i paired at half-back.
Fotuali'i will skipper the side.
Tom Isaacs will feature alongside Andrew Bishop in midfield.
Forwards coach Jonathan Humphreys said: "This period of three games in nine days is crucial for us and having won the first game against the Scarlets, it really is vital that we keep on working hard as a group, looking to improve and to find the performance level that will get us into the play-off spots before the Pro12 goes into a break for Europe and the LV.
"As a coaching group, we've got to be pleased with the win against the Scarlets, but there's still room for improvement.
"We showed great effort and commitment, good discipline and we played the game plan well but there were areas of the performance where we could have done better.
"With the quick turnaround and the nature of Christmas rugby, there's not much time to prepare for this game but what time we have got will be used to ensure the boys are focused and know what is needed to raise the performance another level again.
"It's another tough week, with a difficult game in Newport followed by another tricky one at the Liberty against Zebre on Friday night.
"We have to make sure that everyone understands how important these games are to our Pro12 hopes, that we need to put top-level performances in, and if we do that then we have a chance of getting the results we need."
Meanwhile, former Osprey Tom Prydie returns to the Dragons side after a knee injury forced him to miss the defeat at the Blues last week.
But fly-half Dan Evans has not recovered from an ankle sprain. He is replaced by Lewis Robling.
Dragons: H. Amos; W. Harries, P. Leach, A. Tuilagi, T. Prydie; L. Robling, J. Evans; P. Price, S. Parry, D. Way, A. Coombs, R. Sidoli, L. Evans (capt) T. Faletau, N. Cudd. Reps: H. Gustafson, O. Evans, N. Buck, A. Jones, T. Brown, W. Evans, S. Jones, J. Dixon.
Ospreys: R. Fussell; R. Jones, T. Isaacs, A. Bishop, E. Walker; D. Biggar, K. Fotuali'i (capt); R. Bevington, R. Hibbard, A. Jones, L. Peers, J. King, R. Jones, J. Bearman, S. Lewis. Reps: S. Baldwin, D. Jones, C. Griffiths, J. Thomas, M. Allen, R. Webb/T. Habberfield, M. Morgan, A. Beck.