Dragons hooker Taylor Davies: Pic; Getty Images.

Taylor Made For Noisy Night In Limerick . . . As Dragons Hooker Davies Bids To Press Mute On Munster

By Graham Thomas

Taylor Davies aims to silence the Munster crowd at Thomond Park on Saturday night and strike a blow for the hooker’s union.

The Dragons front rower will be looking to help Dean Ryan’s side gain only their second win of the season in the United Rugby Championship.

It seems a long time ago since the Dragons earned a hard-fought victory away to Connacht on October 9, but Taylor believes they are capable of producing another shock across the Irish Sea in a match that is live on S4C on Saturday night.

To do so, the details of the visitors’ game will have to be spot on against a Munster side who have won seven of their 10 league matches and lay fourth in the table with a game in hand on those above them.

Securing the nuts and bolts of the game plan will include a smooth functioning line-out – an area of the game that was much debated after Wales’ defeat to England at Twickenham.

Wales No.2 Ryan Elias overshot a throw for England’s crucial try, before his replacement Dewi Lake was revealed to have been the target for plenty of verbal abuse before his first throw.

The news was hardly a surprise for Davies, who has had to get used to performing more regularly in front of big, hostile crowds since his loan move from the Scarlets last summer.

 

“As a hooker, when you’re about to throw in, you do get a lot of sledging,” says Davies.

 

“Sometimes it’s from players and sometimes from fans. You hear voices and often you don’t even know where they’re coming from. You just block it out.

“Once you miss one throw, the crowd are on your back, big time. But it’s nothing too serious. They might shout at you to throw in straight, or for the ref to watch and make sure it’s straight. That kind of thing.

“Everyone knows how Munster like to play and that gets the crowd behind them. They are very physical and like to dominate the set-pieces. It will be a big challenge.”

The 26-year-old is likely to feel the heat – and the volume – from the good folk of Limerick on Saturday evening.

It will certainly be more noisy than on his last trip to one of Europe’s most intimidating grounds with the Scarlets last season, when the stands were empty because of Covid restrictions.

His previous visit, the season before, was also memorable for the wrong reasons as a torn hamstring ended his day’s work after just 90 seconds.

 

At his home region, Davies was struggling for game time – not surprising since Ken Owens and Elias – the Wales first and second choice hookers at the time – were in the same squad.

At the Dragons, he has already played nine times this season and believes the increased exposure to regular rugby has developed his game.

“I am enjoying the experience of being with the Dragons,” says the man who has shared hooking duties with Elliot Dee.

“It’s been great to have a different perspective on playing and a different style. It’s been different to what I was used to at the Scarlets and particularly the amount that I’m playing.

“At the Scarlets, I was tending to play only when the internationals were away. I have also learned a fair bit, technically in terms of scrums and line-out.

“Dean Ryan wants us to play in a positive way and it’s the way I want to play, with the ball in hand.

“There is a still a positive feel at the club, even though we haven’t won many games. The brand of rugby he wants to play will eventually be successful, I’m sure.”

 

Despite their struggles this season in terms of results, the Dragons have managed to recruit strongly for next season with Ospreys prop Rhodri Jones, Ulster hooker Bradley Roberts, Exeter lock Sean Lonsdale, Clermont fly-half JJ Hanrahan and Bath centre Max Clark all on their way to Newport.

As it stands, Davies will not be part of that group as he is due to return to the Scarlets when his loan expires at the end of the campaign.

He plans, though, to depart with a flourish, rather than a whimper.

“The Scarlets is my childhood club so it means a lot to me. Hopefully, I will go back and play more often. I am more confident now that I can play at this level, week-in, week-out. That’s the big thing I have learned from this season.

“For now, we need a couple of wins to give us some positive momentum. There is nothing worse than losing a game you feel was in your grasp.

“It’s important for us now to perform well and I think the results will come.”

 

S4C – Saturday: 5.00pm, Clwb Rygbi – Munster v Dragons.

Live coverage from Thomond Park of the United Rugby Championship match between Munster and Dragons. English commentary available. K/O 5.15pm.

 

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