By Graham Thomas
Ben Carter has revealed the Dragons failed to give Gerwyn Price a run for his money – but they still aim to check out on a high in front of their own fans on Saturday night.
Carter and his Dragons teammates put up their own champion – youngster Joe Westwood – to face Price when the former darts world champion visited Rodney Parade earlier this week.
The inevitable mis-match ended with a predictable away win for one-time Cross Keys hooker Price, but the Dragons will arrow in on a successful home victory in their final game at Rodney Parade this season, a clash with Connacht that is live on S4C.
“We had a tournament running internally for a month or so and Joe Westwood was the winner,” says young Wales international Carter.
“Joe played 301 and Gerwin played 501, but Gezzy still won pretty comfortably, to be fair. He’s head and shoulder above us, isn’t he? Gerwyn also trained with us and showed off his skills and he looked pretty sharp.
“It was a great success and a fantastic day and typical of our coach Dai Flanagan who is bringing in new ideas and freshening things up.
“Dai is a very positive guy. He’s made the place a very enjoyable one to come to work in. Don’t get me wrong, we work hard. But he’s just made it a good place to come to and I think that really works.”
Darts superstar Gerwyn Price trains with Dragons ahead of rugby returnhttps://t.co/76OJBZSOei
— WalesOnline Rugby (@WalesRugby) March 1, 2023
Dragons Gear Up for Last Home Game Against Connacht in United Rugby Championship
The Dragons have four United Rugby Champioinship fixtures left this season, but with their final game against the Scarlets moved to the Principality Stadium for another Judgement Day double-header, the Connacht clash will be their last in front of their own fans.
After a season of upheaval and obstacles – on and off the field – Carter has done well to stay the course after recovering from an ankle injury suffered in December.
The 21-year-old may have missed out on a place in Wales’ Six Nations squad, but he insists the Dragons are determined to finish on high when they bid farewell to their fans at Rodney Parade.
“Whatever performance we put in on Saturday, it will last for a while, so we want it to be a good one,” says Carter.
“It’s been frustrating this season because it feels like we say this quite a lot, but I think it has been promising with some of the performances that we’re putting in.
“If we can just be a bit more clinical in certain situations and fix ups and things, then results will look a lot better. We see Saturday as a really good opportunity to start that.
“Hopefully, we build from that for the remainder of the games and and next season have a really good strong foundation to start with.”
From Injury Setback to Comeback: Carter’s Quest for Strength and Durability
Carter’s ankle injury means he went six weeks without any action through December and half of January – unfortunate timing for a young forward who was hoping to retain his place in the Wales squad through the changeover from Wayne Pivac to Warren Gatland.
But with four matches under belt since his return, he is keen to continue his development, which includes a mission to get bigger, stronger and more durable.
“It’s something that I’m aware of that I need to do,” says the former Caldicott RFC youngster.
“If you look at the players playing second row at the top of their game, they are big physical men. I know that’s something that I need to work hard towards. It will only help my game and I’m getting a lot of help with the Dragons with that.
“It can be quite a vague thing to say to ‘get bigger and stronger’, so it’s about doing it in the right way, so you can still move around the pitch, jump in the line out, and do all the other things you need to do on the field.”
Carter is part of an all-international Dragons pack that will take on mid-table Connacht, a home eight that includes hooker Bradley Roberts, tight-head Leon Brown and back row forward Aaron Wainwright after they were released from the Wales squad to get game time.
“It’s been a boost having the Internationals come back into training this week. Aaron, Leon and Brad bring a lot and there’s a really good feeling in the camp at the moment.
“Connacht are always tough and they have had some good results recently, but we’re looking forward to Saturday.”
S4C – Saturday, 7.30pm: Clwb Rygbi – Dragons v Connacht.
Live coverage of the United Rugby Championship match from Rodney Parade.
English commentary available.