Dragons book quarter-final spot
Seven-try Dragons moved into the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup after a victory over Enisei-STM and night of high drama at Rodney Parade.
Dean Ryan’s men went into the Round 6 game knowing a bonus point win – plus a positive result between Worcester and Castres at Sixways – would book a place in the last eight.
Dragons did the job on home soil with 47-5 as the region wrapped up maximum points courtesy of tries from Adam Warren (2), Ross Moriarty, Jared Rosser, Harrison Keddie, Tyler Morgan and Aaron Wainwright.
Then it was all eyes on the West Midlands as Castres fought-back in a thriller to take the win.
That result sent the Top14 side to the summit of Pool1 and ensured Dragons claimed runners-up spot and can look forward to knockout rugby in April.
Dragons were forced into a late change before the game, with illness meaning Taine Basham was replaced by Harrison Keddie while Huw Taylor came onto the bench.
It was a disjointed opening 40 minutes from the Dragons who got the wrong side of the officials and struggled to build momentum.
Full back Carwyn Penny, making his full debut for the region, was immediately in the game as he took a high ball before grubber kicking in behind for jet-heeled Rio Dyer to chase down the left wing.
The home pack looked to get into their stride early on with a driving maul shunted over the line with some force on 12 minutes, with Moriarty touching down for his first try for the region, converted by Sam Davies.
However, indiscipline was costing the home side territory in the opening quarter with re-set scrums and loose passes becoming all too frequent.
The home side did threaten again courtesy of a powerful run by Tavis Knoyle, but an ambitious floated pass was picked off in midfield and only the pace of Dyer stopped Enisei racing away.
A second home try arrived after a superb break from Keddie down the right wing as he sent Rosser over on the half hour, with Davies making no mistake with the extras from in front.
But Enisei hit back with a well-worked score of their own as wing Bjorn Basson scooped up a kick dived over in the corner to reduce the lead to 14-5 at the break.
An intercept score from Keddie at the start of the second half calmed nerves. Dragons were looking to force the Russians back and force mistakes when they ran from deep.
Enisei were reduced to 14 men after a penalty in front of the posts and Morgan soon galloped over for the try bonus, although he injured his hamstring in the process and was replace by Botica.
Warren was rewarded for an industrious display with a try in the final ten minutes before Wainwright raced down the flank to score.
And in the last minute it was Warren who went over for his second to spark celebrations as the final whistle in both pool games ensured knockout rugby for Dragons.
12m Moriarty t Davies c 7-0
30m Rosser t Davies c 14-0
33m Basson t 14-5
42m Keddie t Davies c 21-5
57m Morgan t Davies c 28-5
71m Warren t Davies c 35-5
75m Wainwright t 40-5
80m Warren t Davies c 47-5
Dragons: Carwyn Penny, Jared Rosser (Morgan 40 (Botica 58)), Adam Warren, Tom Griffiths, Rio Dyer (Baldwin 62), Sam Davies, Tavis Knoyle; Lloyd Fairbrother (Reynolds 70), Elliot Dee (Shipp 47), Leon Brown (Coleman 76), Matthew Screech, Cory Hill (Davies 71), Aaron Wainwright, Harrison Keddie, Ross Moriarty (Taylor 58)
Replacements: Ellis Shipp, Josh Reynolds, Chris Coleman, Joe Davies, Huw Taylor, Luke Baldwin, Jacob Botica, Tyler Morgan
Enisei-STM: Earll Douwrie, Davit Meskhi, David Kacharava, Dmitrii Gerasimov, Bjorn Basson, Ramil Gaisin, Alexey Shcherban; Nika Khatiashvili, Shamil Magomedov, Innokentiy Zykov, Uldis Saulite, Evgeny Elgin, Mikheil Gachechiladze, Andrey Temnov, Dmitri Krotov
Replacements: Stanislav Selskii, Ewald Westhuizen, Azat Musin, Jeremy Jordaan, Nikita Chursahov, Konstantin Uzunov, Jurijs Baranovs, Vitaly Nemtsev
Referee: Joy Neville (Ire)