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Southern Kings can stop Scarlets from stretching clear

Dragons coach Jackman aware of young Leinster threat

Dragons coach Bernard Jackman (supporting ball-carrier) in his Leinster playing days
1 of 1

Dragons v Leinster
Sky Action, 3.15pm Saturday
Scarlets v Kings
Sky Action, 5.30pm Saturday

Finishing second from bottom with just four wins in the Pro12 season was a harsh call to action for the Dragons and the Welsh region have worked to strengthen their side.

New coach Bernard Jackman comes in after six years in the Top 14 with Grenoble, while summer signings included Gavin Henson from Bristol and South African winger Zane Kirchner from opponents Leinster.

Both men start today but Jackman, who played for five seasons at Leinster, is full aware of the danger even a young Leinster side pose.

The Irish outfit ran in eight tries for a 54-22 victory on their last visit to Rodney Parade in February, with their internationals away at the Six Nations, and even with some big names missing they can still put out an experienced line-up.

Leinster were slow into their stride last season, opening with a 20-8 victory against Treviso when they were 22-point favourites, then losing at both Glasgow and Edinburgh.

But against a Dragons team who shipped at least 40 points in all four of their pre-season matches they have the firepower to cover a nine-point handicap.

After the Cheetahs became the first South African team to run out in the revamped Pro14 on Friday night, it's the turn of the Southern Kings to show what they can bring to the party as they face champions Scarlets in Wales.


Read more

Pro 14 season preview

Pro 14 top tryscorer

Pro 14 team guide

Pro 14 conferences


The Port Elizabeth-based team won six of their 15 Super Rugby fixtures but apart from a heavy 54-10 defeat to runners-up the Lions in Johanenesburg they were rarely put to the sword on the road.

They went down 47-34 to the Reds in Brisbane and 46-41 to the Force in Perth while the final matches of their season were all decided by one point as they beat the Jaguares and Bulls by an identical 31-30 scoreline before going down 21-20 to the Cheetahs.

 

Whether they will be allowed to show any attacking ambition in the more physically intensive climes of the northern hemisphere remains to be seen. But teams are often less structured early in the season and this could be a high-scoring match, so a 26-point start for the visitors could be big.

The Ospreys start their campaign with a home clash against last year's bottom side Zebre, while bookmakers can barely split Connacht and Glasgow as they round off the opening weekend in Galway.

Recommendations
Leinster -9
2pts 10-11 general

Southern Kings +26
1pt 10-11 Coral, Ladbrokes 

The Irish outfit ran in eight tries for a 54-22 victory on their last visit to Rodney Parade in February, with their internationals away
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