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The Sporting Week Ahead

It’s the derby match the Dragons have forgotten how to win.

When their biggest rivals, Cardiff, arrive at Rodney Parade on Sunday, the home side will be looking to end a losing sequence in this clash that now stretches back for 16 matches.

That’s a lot of defeats, although the bookies obviously feel the Dragons have far more of an opportunity this weekend in their United Rugby Championship clash.

DragonBet can’t split the teams and have both priced at 10/11 for the win, with the draw at 20/1.

You have to go back to 2014 for the last time the Dragons enjoyed success – a 23-17 victory on Boxing Day.

Since then, Cardiff have won on every occasion and they can also claim a record of five wins in their last eight away games, stretching back into last season.

But Dragons outside-half Angus O’Brien insists the one-way traffic can be redirected this weekend.

“It’s now just about having that killer instinct and capitalising on the opportunities,” said O’Brien whose team lost at home to Edinburgh last week.

“We’re creating them in abundance, we just need to be smart and clinical when those opportunities do arise.”

The rugby continues in midweek when the Indigo Group Welsh Premiership takes centre stage.

Newport host Pontypridd on Wednesday, before a Thursday night Gwent derby between Pontypool – promoted last season – and Ebbw Vale.

Pontypool director of rugby Leighton Jones reckons there is a burgeoning relationship with the Dragons Academy, with scrum half Morgan Lloyd being a huge addition to the squad this season.

“We want to become a production line for the Dragons and are hopeful that the players in the schools side will one day play for us and the regional team,” says Jones.

“We’ve been delighted with the progress made by Wales U20 players Dylan Kelleher-Griffiths and Sam Scarfe, and Morgan is benefitting from playing regular rugby.”

Welsh football interest starts on Sunday, when two Welsh managers will be desperate for victories to boost their survival hopes in the Premier League.

Former Swansea City boss Steve Cooper takes his Nottingham Forest team to Liverpool searching for a shock, while Rob Edwards’ Luton Town battlers are away at another in-form club in Aston Villa.

On Tuesday, the international game takes centre stage once more and the Welsh interest will be in Denmark, where Gemma Grainger’s Wales team face the Danes.

It’s the third fixture in Wales’ UEFA Women’s Nations League campaign – a sequence that began with two defeats, to Iceland and then at home to the Danes.

By Saturday, the Football League fixtures return to the spotlight with Swansea City at home to Sunderland in the Championship and Cardiff City travelling to Stoke.

The are no League Two fixtures for Wrexham or Newport as the first round of the FA Cup gets its time in the sun.

Newport are at home to Oldham, while Wrexham feature in a 7.45pm televised clash away to Mansfield Town.

Ioan Cunningham’s Wales Women’s rugby side are in action on Friday morning (UK time) against Australia in the third match of their WXV tournament Down Under.

On Friday evening, the Ospreys entertain the Sharks, whilst it’s Bridgend at home to Llandovery in the Welsh Premiership.

That sets things up nicely for the big Wales clash against the Barbarians on Saturday afternoon, where Leigh Halfpenny will play his last match for Wales and Alun Wyn Jones will also wave goodbye to the Test stage with an appearance for the Baa Baas.

There’s a Welsh URC derby on the same afternoon, with the Scarlets at home to Cardiff, whilst the Dragons are away at Munster.

If rugby league is more your thing, then Saturday sees a big England v Wales clash in the women’s game at Headingley.

Wales coach Thomas Brindle says: “We’re really looking forward to the challenge, this will be the third time we have taken on England and another chance to showcase the significant development of Rugby League in Wales since our first fixture back in 2021.”

The Cricket World Cup continues next week in India – where England are likely to bow out – whilst Sunday will see the Brazilian Grand Prix.

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