Hewitt late heroics grabs derby draw
Wing Ashton Hewitt scored a dramatic last minute try as Dragons drew 20-20 with 14-men Ospreys in an enthralling derby encounter as the Guinness PRO14 restarted at the Liberty Stadium.
Hewitt and prop Leon Brown grabbed first half tries for Dean Ryan’s men while Wales international George North was dramatically red carded for the home side.
It looked as though the 14-men would hold out after a tense second period until a late twist as Hewitt dived over in the corner to share the spoils.
Boss Dean Ryan have vowed to use the upcoming league games as a stepping-stone to the European clash with Bristol and give opportunities.
It was reflected in his team selection with youngster Ben Fry handed a first PRO14 start while new recruits Nick Tompkins and Joe Maksymiw made debuts. Tavis Knoyle played his 50th game for the region.
The home side were quickly into their stride with three points from fly half Stephen Myler before North barged over his opposite number on the right wing to open up a 10-lead inside seven minutes.
Tompkins showcased his offloading skills to spark an attack before industrious back row Fry fed Brown on the inside as Dragons looked to mount a response.
The visitors made momentum count as centre Jack Dixon showed his strength to hold off a tackle and feed Hewitt who brushed off two men to race over. Davies added the extras.
From the restart the Ospreys were suddenly a man down as North was red carded for a dangerous tackle in the air on Hewitt.
Davies saw a long-range penalty drift wide left but the game was now being played in the home half as Dragons started to use the numerical advantage.
Desperate home defence saw Ospreys hold out after second row duo Matthew Screech and Joe Maksymiw both battled for hard yards.
A second visiting try arrived as prop Brown cut a superb line to take Knoyle’s pop pass and held off the attention of last man Dan Evans to score – backing up his score against the same team in the festive derbies.
The lead, though, lasted three minutes as Myler nudged over a kick after a scrappy restart saw Dragons penalised.
Toby Booth’s men struck three minutes before the interval as centre Kieran Williams cut through a gap and released hooker Sam Parry on his shoulder to score his fifth try of the season. Davies cut the lead to five-points with a penalty on the stroke of half-time.
Ospreys started the second half with the same verve and tempo as the first, but were almost gifted a try as an overthrown lineout was gobbled up by Parry who put his head down only to be held up.
Knoyle broke from deep and Hibbard also stole ball on the floor as Dragons looked to inject some fire into their play, with Aaron Wainwright among those to come off the bench.
Myler slid a penalty wide of the target just before the hour mark while basic errors were denying Dragons the chance to build any sustained pressure.
A thundering attack saw Dixon and Moriarty rumble up the middle before a cross field kick from Davies went loose and Daf Howells just failed to gather the bouncing ball score.
Errors were costing Dragons as they looked to pile on the pressure in the final quarter. Full back Howells did get over the line but the try was then disallowed by the TMO for a knock on as he grounded under pressure.
However, with seconds left it was the predatory Hewitt who was on hand to score in the corner while Davies saw his touchline kick for the win fly agonisingly wide.
03m Myler p 3-0
07m North t Myler c 10-0
13m Hewitt t Davies c 10-7
27m Brown t 10-12
30m Myler p 13-12
37m Parry t Myler c 20-12
39m Davies p 20-15
79m Hewitt t 20-20
Ospreys: Dan Evans, George North, Owen Watkin (Thomas-Wheeler 63), Kieran Williams, Luke Morgan, Stephen Myler (Thomas 14-26, 70), Rhys Webb (Morgan-Williams 69); Nicky Smith (G. Thomas 51), Sam Parry (Lake 51), Tom Botha (N. Thomas 51), Adam Beard (B. Davies 62), Alun Wyn Jones, Olly Cracknell, Justin Tipuric, Morgan Morris (Griffiths 70)
Replacements: Dewi Lake, Gareth Thomas, Nicky Thomas, Bradley Davies, Will Griffiths, Reuben Morgan-Williams, Josh Thomas, Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler
Dragons: Dafydd Howells, Owen Jenkins, Nick Tompkins, Jack Dixon, Ashton Hewitt (Warren 26-37), Sam Davies, Tavis Knoyle (Baldwin 58); Brok Harris (Maguire 70), Richard Hibbard (Shipp 50), Leon Brown (Coleman 79), Matthew Screech, Joe Maksymiw (J. Davies 63), Ben Fry, Taine Basham (Wainwright 52), Ross Moriarty
Replacements: Ellie Shipp, Conor Maguire, Chris Coleman, Joe Davies, Aaron Wainwright, Luke Baldwin, Arwel Robson, Adam Warren
Referee: Adam Jones (WRU)
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