Dragons Suffer Narrow Loss In Physical Boxing Day Derby
Dragons fell to a narrow 12-13 loss against Welsh rivals the Cardiff Blues in a feisty local derby at a wet and blustery Rodney Parade.
The home side were seeking a third straight Guinness PRO14 win for the first time since 2014/15, while the Blues had only won one of their last six league matches.
But a try from visiting Number Eight Josh Turnbull - alongside eight points from the boot of fly half Jarrod Evans - ended the Dragons hopes of stopping their ten-game losing run to the Blues.
Dragons fly half Josh Lewis managed 12 points and was 100% from the tee for the home side, but it was not enough as the Blues earned derby day bragging rights.
It was a physical start at Rodney Parade in awful weather conditions, with Dragons dominating possession in the early period and managing to head into the lead thanks to three points from the boot of fly half Lewis.
The Blues failed to keep their discipline after going behind and conceded two penalties in quick succession right in front of goal as Lewis made it three from three off the tee and extended the home side’s lead to 9-0.
After some Dragons indiscipline of their own, Blues thought they were back in the match with a try in the corner from a driving maul.
But the TMO replays show scrum half Tavis Knoyle managed to miraculously rip the ball from his opponent Kristian Dacey before he could touch down.
Blues began to dominate territory at the quarter way stage, going to the corner at every available opportunity.
The Dragons defence, though, held strong and the Cardiff side once again walked away from the home sides 22m with nothing to show in the score-line.
The away side’s pressure finally told as Evans got their first points onto the board with a penalty ten minutes from half time.
Dean Ryan would have been the happier of the two coaches in the first 40 as his side headed into the break with a 9-3 advantage.
Dragons started the second half as they begun the first and after a period of pressure in the Blues 22 they earned another penalty and Lewis – who is on top form with the boot – made it four from four off the tee, regaining the Dragons nine point cushion at 12-3.
The nine-point gap did not last long as Blues struck back with a penalty of their own from fly half Evans narrowing the score to 12-6, with 25 minutes remaining on the clock.
With just under 15 minutes remaining the Blues built pressure in the Dragons half and it eventually told as their pack managed to rumble over under the posts with Turnbull the scorer. Evans added the extras and put the Blues in the lead for the first time in the match.
Further indiscipline from the Dragons. - alongside some debatable calls - allowed the Blues to keep the ball inside the Dragons half for the rest of the game and see out the victory.
Ryan’s men did manage to salvage a losing bonus point thanks to some brilliant defence on their own try line late on at Rodney Parade.
08m Lewis p 3-0
14m Lewis p 6-0
16m Lewis p 9-0
32m Evans p 9-3
46m Lewis p 12-3
54m Evans p 12-6
Dragons: Jonah Holmes; Owen Jenkins, Jack Dixon, Jamie Roberts, Ashton Hewitt, Josh Lewis, Tavis Knoyle; Brok Harris (Jarvis 72), Elliot Dee (Hibbard 65), Lloyd Fairbrother (Brown 47), Ben Carter, Matthew Screech, Harrison Keddie, Taine Basham, Aaron Wainwright
Replacements: Richard Hibbard, Aaron Jarvis, Leon Brown, Lewis Evans, Huw Taylor, Luke Baldwin, Aneurin Owen, Evan Lloyd
Cardiff Blues: Hallam Amos; Aled Summerhill, Garyn Smith, Max Llewellyn (Lee-lo 46), Josh Adams, Jarrod Evans, Lloyd Williams (T.Williams 54); Brad Thyer (Carre 57), Kristian Dacey (E.Lewis 70), Dillon Lewis (Arhip 57), Ben Murphy (Lawrence 70), Seb Davies, Cory Hill (Lewis-Hughes 46), James Botham, Josh Turnbull
Replacements: Ethan Lewis, Rhys Carre, Dmitri Arhip, Alun Lawrence, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Tomos Williams, Jason Tovey, Rey Lee-lo
Referee: Craig Evans (WRU)