Pro14: Ospreys v Dragons (Sat)

Aaron Wainwright in Dragons' January Pro14 defeat at home to Ospreys
Aaron Wainwright played in Dragons' January Pro14 defeat at home to Ospreys
Pro14: Ospreys v Dragons
Venue: Brewery Field, Bridgend Date: Saturday, 6 March Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Coverage: Live BBC Radio Wales MW, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds, BBC Sport website and app, S4C.

Ospreys centre Owen Watkin and Dragons back-rower Aaron Wainwright are released from Wales duties to play in the final Welsh derby of the Pro14 season in Bridgend on Saturday.

Ospreys are without Mat Protheroe, Luke Morgan (hamstring) and Gareth Thomas (knee strain) after injuries in Ulster.

They can make virtually certain of a top three pool finish and a Champions Cup place with a win in Bridgend.

Dragons have lost their last eight games and prop up Conference A.

Wainwright returns in the back row at number eight, with fellow Wales international Ross Moriarty moving to blindside, while Harrison Keddie captains from openside.

Prop Brok Harris returns, while lock Joe Davies is recalled to partner Joe Maksymiw in the second row.

Jamie Roberts is named at inside centre alongside Aneurin Owen, while the final change is a start for Josh Lewis at full-back.

Wing Ashton Hewitt will make his 100th appearance for Dragons.

Watkin is named on the bench for Ospreys, who start with Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler and Keiran Williams as the centre pairing at the Brewery Field, while wing Keelan Giles will make his 50th appearance for the region.

Ospreys head coach Toby Booth is satisfied with his squad's progress this season, after he took over a struggling side in summer 2020.

"If you look at the base-line of where we've come from to where we are now, the progress has been good. If we perform exceptionally well then it takes us a step closer to Champions Cup rugby which is important for the group and supporters," he told BBC Sport Wales.

With the Liberty Stadium being used for football, Booth's troops return to the Brewery Field for the first time in two years- following previous home games this season at St Helen's and even Parc y Scarlets.

"The five metre line is still five metres out, and the 22 is 22 metres away from the goal-line," joked Booth.

"Nuances around wind direction, we have to be able to adapt to things on the day let alone stadium and pitch differences. We train in different places, indoors and outdoors, so it's an opportunity for us to be more resilient."

Derby emotions

Dragons director of rugby Dean Ryan, a long-standing rival of Booth from the English premiership, is without a win in 2021, and understandably concerned about results.

"We've got to stay stable and understand how to improve but we've never hidden away from the fact it's important for us to get results," he said.

"I have no doubt we'll see derby emotion this week but at the same time we have to control that and be accurate."

"If we get it right I don't think we're a million miles away from getting results which would gather momentum."

Wainwright, 23, has only played in one Six Nations game in this campaign, the win in Scotland.

He will pack down in the back-row alongside fellow Wales international Ross Moriarty who made his return from ankle surgery in the 26-15 defeat at Zebre.

"Ross was outstanding last week, our stand-out performer. To stay on for 80 minutes was enormous so I'm looking forward to seeing him and Aaron playing together," said Ryan.

Fifty for Giles

Ospreys wing Giles makes his 50th regional appearance having returned in January from 15 months out, his second lengthy absence with knee problems.

He was a Wales squad member in 2016-17 without winning a cap.

"It's a nice achievement for me and my family, but one I've been waiting for for a while. I think the recovery this time was more challenging than last time but now I feel totally fine," he said.

"It's tough but the physios' support is a massive help, though it was a bit tougher with Covid (restrictions) and social distancing.

"I'm just concentrating on getting my starting spot with the Ospreys, I want to get a run of games, (a Wales place) is a goal I want to achieve but hopefully that'll come in the future."

Ospreys: Dan Evans; Hanno Dirksen, Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, Keiran Williams, Keelan Giles; Stephen Myler, Rhys Webb (capt); Nicky Smith, Sam Parry, Tom Botha, Lloyd Ashley, Rhys Davies, Will Griffiths, Olly Cracknell, Morgan Morris.

Replacements: Ifan Phillips, Garyn Phillips, Ma'afu Fia, Gareth Evans, Sam Cross, Reuben Morgan-Williams, Owen Watkin, Dewi Cross.

Dragons: Josh Lewis; Jonah Holmes, Aneurin Owen, Jamie Roberts, Ashton Hewitt; Sam Davies, Gonzalo Bertranou; Brok Harris, Richard Hibbard, Lloyd Fairbrother, Joe Davies, Joe Maksymiw, Ross Moriarty, Harrison Keddie (capt), Aaron Wainwright.

Replacements: Rhys Law, Josh Reynolds, Aaron Jarvis, Ben Carter, Dan Baker, Rhodri Williams, Jack Dixon, Jordan Williams.

Referee: Craig Evans (WRU)

Assistant Referees: Nigel Owens, Dan Jones (both WRU)

TMO: Rhys Thomas (WRU)

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