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Page last updated at 16:30 GMT, Wednesday, 22 September 2010 17:30 UK

Scarlets can scorch 'wet-weather' Dragons - Rhys Thomas

MAGNERS LEAGUE
Venue: Rodney Parade, Newport Date: Friday, 24 September Kick-off: 1905 BST Coverage: Live on BBC TWO Wales, Radio Wales & online, highlights on Sunday's Scrum V


Rhys Thomas joined the Scarlets from the Dragons last year
Rhys Thomas joined the Scarlets from the Dragons last year

Prop Rhys Thomas says the Scarlets can overwhelm his old side the Dragons in Friday's Magners League Welsh derby.

"The Dragons are a wet-weather side who can play the conditions very well, they will come at us through the forwards as they always do," Thomas told BBC Sport.

"If we can match or dominate up front then our backs can do the business."

Thomas also laughed off the famed fear factor posed by the old-school Rodney Parade ground and fans saying "it's all banter at the end of the day."

The Newport ground is the last traditional club venue in Welsh regional rugby - the Ospreys, Scarlets and Blues having moved to new stadia - and the Dragons have won four of their last five home matches.

Scarlets await Rodney Parade fear factor

"I was at Rodney Parade for nearly nine years so it's exciting to go back, I know most of the players and I'm really looking forward to it," said tight-head Thomas, 28.

"I expect a bit of stick but I'll take it with a pinch of salt. It's a good atmosphere, you just have to use it to your advantage.

"It's all banter at the end of the day, there'll be boos and heckles but it's all a laugh."

The Scarlets region have won their last four matches against the Dragons and they, along with the Blues, have the best record of teams visiting Rodney Parade in the league, each having achieved four previous victories.

I feel like I'm the forgotten prop of Welsh rugby

Rhys Thomas

"I enjoy [the Rodney Parade atmosphere], it's a bit of a pantomime with us as the bad guys," said Scarlets fly-half Rhys Priestland, whose side have slipped to five straight league defeats on the road since they beat the Dragons at Rodney Parade on New Year's Eve.

Scarlets coach Nigel Davies added: "We're expecting a backlash [after the Dragons' derby defeat at the Blues last week].

"Rodney Parade is very compact, the supporters are very close to the ground, they've all got their views on the game and they all express them.

"It can be very intimidating for the opposition and for referees. They are a team that are very comfortable in that environment."

The Newport crowd have targeted Dragons old boys for abuse in the past, particularly Blues fly-half Ceri Sweeney.

Thomas is now sure to be a target, his comments following last year's move to west Wales in a controversial deal reportedly worth £500,000 over three years.

Dragons eye derby revenge

The 6ft 1ins, 19st 11lbs front-rower followed that up by stating that his move was motivated by ambition, not cash, and that the Dragons "weren't really moving on".

But seven-cap Thomas' dream move was spoiled by injury that kept him out for most of last season.

"The injury was extremely frustrating, sometimes you can feel very negative," he said. "But I've got my love for the game back now.

"I feel like I'm the forgotten prop of Welsh rugby but a couple of big performances and I'll put myself back in the shop window."

Thomas' last cap came in last year's narrow 15-20 Six Nations win over Italy in Rome.

Wales' front row struggled badly in that match, prompting coach Warren Gatland to make some pointed comments after the game.



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see also
Dragons 14-27 Scarlets
24 Sep 10 |  Welsh
'Stale' Dragons frustrated Thomas
30 Jun 09 |  Welsh
Thomas cleared of dangerous play
08 Sep 09 |  Welsh
Wales prop signs for Scarlets
26 Mar 09 |  Welsh
Turner upset at Thomas 'transfer'
25 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
Rodney Parade fury lifts Ospreys
26 Mar 10 |  Welsh
Magners League 2010/11
02 Jul 10 |  Rugby Union
RaboDirect Pro12 table
09 Aug 06 |  Tables
Regional rugby archive
07 Jul 03 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales
Coming up next on Scrum V...
03 Nov 08 |  Welsh


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