By Gareth James
Huw Taylor believes the Dragons will pull off one of their greatest ever victories if they can storm the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday lunchtime.
The England-born flanker will be part of a Dragons outfit who will bid to topple the URC champions in Port Elizabeth in a match that is live on S4C.
The Welsh region gave a good account of themselves in a 33-25 defeat to the Lions last week in the first of their three matches in South Africa.
But this will be a step up in class against a Stormers side who are packed with talent and Taylor says: “If we could get the win, it would have to go down as one of the Dragons’ best ever.
“It would be a statement win for us; it would be massive for our belief. Looking at the league table last year and so far, this year, they are one of the best teams in the league. So, it would be huge for us.
“We have said their team selection is a compliment to how we have been playing.
“They have brought a few internationals back in, even though they have the Champions Cup next week, so they clearly have shown respect to us.
“We have to prove them right and show everyone we can compete against the top teams now. We have been building towards this, but now we have to show that we mean business.”
The Dragons were showing signs of an upswing before the break for the November internationals with back-to-back victories over the Ospreys and Zebre.
They might even have made it three in a row against the Lions, but spurned opportunities and in the end were unable to claim a losing bonus point.
The Stormers are fourth on the URC table with five wins from seven matches, while the Dragons are 11th with three wins from eight.
“Last week was probably a missed opportunity, I definitely felt like we had the capability to beat the Lions,” adds former England U20s cap Taylor.
“But the result has only pushed the boys further, we are determined to get something out of this game.
“We know we have the capability to compete, but now we have to go the extra step to get a win.
“The boys are raring to go and, we have definitely got the ability to beat them, we just need to cut out some unforced mistakes from our game, if we can do that, we can definitely compete with them.”
The Dragons have been strengthened by the arrival of Wales hooker Bradley Roberts from Wales duty and he will join a pack that includes fellow internationals Ross Moriarty and Aaron Wainwright.
Matthew Screech also makes his first start since returning to the Dragons on loan from Cardiff.
Tayor adds: “It’s good to have Brad (Bradley Roberts) back in, he’s done very well for us this season. He’s a great asset to the side, especially with his carrying ability, we will need it out here. He is a big threat, it’s great we can add that to our game.
“Matthew (Screech) has come in, he played well off the bench and now he has the opportunity to show what he can do starting this weekend.
“You know what you’re going to get with Screechy, he’s big, he’s physical and he works hard. He has fit into the squad really well and he adds a lot of quality to the pack.”
The Welsh regions all struggled initially on their trips to South Africa, but there have been recent signs they are now getting to grips with what is required.
A week ago, Cardiff became the first Welsh region to win in South Africa since the United Rugby Championship’s expansion with a bonus-point victory at Sharks and Taylor reckons the Dragons are capable of following with an even more impressive away win.
“I think first of all you need to be at your best out here, it is a very difficult place to play.
“If you don’t get your set piece right, then your straight on the back foot. If you get those basics right and play your game on top of that you have a chance.
“But the margins for error are tiny, if you show any weaknesses, they will exploit them.
“The South African sides have an excellent blitz defence; you see it across the board. They put you under huge pressure, so you have to be accurate, they won’t let you get away with it otherwise.
“We need to hold our depth, play intelligent rugby and if we can do that, we will create chances.”
S4C – Saturday, 11.45am: Clwb Rygbi
Stormers v Dragons
liveLcoverage of the BKT United Rugby Championship match between DHL Stormers and Dragons from the Nelson Mandela Stadium, Port Elizabeth.
English commentary available. K/O 12.00pm.