A MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
By Joe Crocker
With 3rd place already secured in Pool 4 of the Amlin Cup the Dragons team took to the Rodney Parade field in style with 7 tries against their spirited Italian foe, Cavalieri Prato. The Dragons were off to a flier and within 4 minutes had crossed the Prato try-line courtesy of Rhys Buckley. Jason Tovey adding the extra 2 points with the conversion.
Prato, who tackled hard throughout, brought themselves back into game a few minutes later with a penalty from outside half Riccardo Bocchino.
The rest of the first half belonged to the Dragons, who were playing with intense pressure and at times, some 'champagne' rugby, through the line-breaking of industrious Toby Faleteu and the hands and boot of Jason Tovey who showed his full range of skills. It was Tovey's great handling and pass that put flier Adam Jones into the corner for a confidence boosting first try of the season. Tovey kept the pressure on the Italians with a cross field kick that Hughes picked up on before nearly sending Andy Tuilagi over for a try.
Dan Lydiate limped off the pitch 16 minutes in and after 24 minutes another inspired long pass from Tovey sent Aled Brew clear in the corner.
A second Bocchino penalty reduced the Italian's deficit to 19-6 but they were let down by some ill-discipline from their fullback, Dion Berryman, and whilst he was in the sin-bin Tuilagi barged his way over the line and joined Hughes in scoring his first try of the season and giving the Dragons their second 4-try bonus point of the competition in 'expresso' fashion.
Tovey capped off a fine personal first half with a 50 yard run to score under the post and then converting it to make the half time score 33-6.
Prato took advantage of a slow Dragons start to the second half when Alberto Chiesa scored in the right hand corner. The Dragons finally shifted up a gear when, after some strong running, Brew chip-kicked with the outside of his boot to give Martyn Thomas a chance to out pace his opponent and make it 38-11, a fine reward after two earlier tap tackles deep in the Prato half had denied him.
Lewis Robling replaced Brew and made an instant contribution with an interception and 60 yard dash to the line.
Prato finished the game on a high when they scored a fine try and the last points of the game to make the final score, Dragons 45 - Cavalieri Prato 16.
M Thomas, Harries, Hughes, Tuilagi, Brew; Tovey, Bedford; Price, Buckley, Way, A Jones, Sidoli, Lydiate, L Evans, Faletau.
Replacements: Parry for Lydiate (16), Gustafson for A Jones (40), J Evans for Bedford (58), Robling for Brew (66), S Jones for Buckley (66), Buck for Way (66).
Berryman (sinbinned 26-36), Lunardi, Von Grumbkow, Chiesa, Tempestini; Bocchino, Di Vignale; De Gregori, Lupetti, Ryan, Kolo'ofai, Cazzola, Petillo, Damiani, Nifo-Tautua.
Replacements: Patelli for Di Vignale (40),Bernini for Lupetti (40), Giovachelli for Cazzola (40), Ngwaini for Lunardi (45), Marino for De Gregori (55), Belardo for Tempestini (58), Vezzosi for Damiani (58)