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Ollie Griffiths Puts Wales Wales Rivalry Aside As Dragons Seek First Derby Win In 21 Matches

Ollie Griffiths can make a major statement for Wales inclusion when he faces Ellis Jenkins on Saturday, but he insists that is far from his mind.

Instead, the Dragons openside flanker will concentrate on trying to gain a first victory for his team in their derby fixture against the Cardiff Blues since 2014.

Griffiths is a rival to Jenkins for the Wales No.7 shirt this season, following the retirement of Sam Warburton. But the former Wales U20 players says Guinness Pro 14 points will be thing uppermost in his thinking, rather than impressing Warren Gatland.

“Whenever I play against someone like Ellis or James Davies, you know they are great players who are great over the ball, but you try not to think about the individual battle too much because then you lose focus of the bigger picture and the things that you have gone through in training,” says Griffiths.

“I just have to play my normal game and hopefully negate his strengths, which is jackalling over the ball along with Josh Navidi and Nick Williams.”

But Griffiths is still confident he can make a favourable impression at Rodney Parade.

“It’s a massive game and everyone will be looking at it, especially with the selection in a few weeks.”

Griffiths, Ross Moriarty and Cory Hill are among eight changes from the side that lost at Munster last weekend.

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The Blues welcome back back-rowers Navidi and Williams, who line up alongside captain Jenkins.

The Blues have made four changes from the side who defeated Cheetahs, with prop Brad Thyer and Lloyd Williams starting.

The Dragons have lost 21 consecutive Welsh derbies going back to Boxing Day 2014 when they beat the Blues.

“It’s something that’s in the background and we don’t talk about it a lot,” said Dragons head coach Bernard Jackman.

“We know it’s part of the legacy that we have from going back, not just last year, but the year before that. And yeah it’s important.

“There’s important points on the table but also it would just be nice to start to build up a home record and beat one of the regions and hopefully it’s this weekend. But it’s going to be incredibly tough.”

Blues wing Owen Lane is hoping to inflict more pain on the Dragons after his a man of the match performance against the Dragons – including a try – last season.

Lane is hopeful of replicating last season’s performance this weekend.

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“I set up a try and I was man of the match,” which was amazing.

“It was my first taste of a derby and it is a different occasion. It was a packed house on Boxing Day and I enjoyed the experience.

“Hopefully, it will be the same experience this year and we can get a win as well. I can remember being very nervous warming up there last year.

“The atmosphere was great, but after the first whistle you relax and get into the swing of things. I really enjoyed the experience, although it helped that I had a good game.”

John Mulvihill’s side have won their last two encounters against Munster and the Cheetahs. But despite travelling to Rodney Parade as favourites Lane insists it will be a tough challenge against the Dragons.

“It is the first derby of the year and the boys are raring to go,” he said.

“It wasn’t a great performance last week against the Cheetahs and hopefully we can put that right and get an important win.

“An away trip of only 12 miles is better than flying anywhere else to play and you can be back in your own bed in the night. It is a tough place to go and hopefully there will be a good crowd there. The Dragons have had a few tough results, but they played well last week in Glasgow.”

Dragons: Jordan Williams; Dafydd Howells, Adam Warren, Jarryd Sage, Jared Rosser; Josh Lewis, Rhodri Williams; Brok Harris, Elliot Dee, Leon Brown, Brandon Nansen, Cory Hill (capt), Aaron Wainwright, Ollie Griffiths, Ross Moriarty

Replacements: Richard Hibbard, Ryan Bevington, Aaron Jarvis, Huw Taylor, Nic Cudd, Tavis Knoyle, Tyler Morgan, Will Talbot-Davies.

Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan; Owen Lane, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Jason Harris; Gareth Anscombe, Lloyd Williams; Brad Thyer, Kristian Dacey, Dmitri Arhip, George Earle, Josh Turnbull, Josh Navidi, Ellis Jenkins (capt), Nick Williams.

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Rhys Gill, Dillon Lewis, Macauley Cook, Olly Robinson, Tomos Williams, Jarrod Evans, Garyn Smith.

Referee: Ian Davies (WRU)

Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris, Gareth Newman (WRU)

TMO: Sean Brickell (WRU)

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