Dragons fightback falls short
Dragons produced a stirring second half fightback but came up just short as they were beaten 41-28 by French heavyweights Lyon in a seven-try European Challenge Cup thriller at Rodney Parade.
The Top 14 giants – who beat Gloucester in the opening round – took control in the first half in Newport to open up a lead, despite a fourth try in eight games from home prop Mesake Doge.
A entertaining second half saw Lyon wrap up the try bonus before the home side roared back into contention.
Loosehead Aki Seiuli scored his first try for the club before Aaron Wainwright – a late replacement for Ollie Griffiths – intercepted and tore over from distance.
Sam Davies and Leo Berdeu traded kicks late on, but it was the French side that held firm under late pressure to secure the win.
Lyon showed early threat as they ominously broke from deep while Rio Dyer almost sprung an attack as he fed a marauding Seiuli on his right shoulder.
Scrum power was allowing the visitors to apply pressure before a big aerial win saw them counter at pace and send right wing Ethan Dumortier over in the corner.
Josh Lewis showed good vision to break down the blindside to expose a gap and again looked to instigate an attack with a superb juggling take.
The full back was in the thick of the action and a high shot by back row Beka Saginadze resulted in a penalty that Davies drilled over.
Lyon struck for a second time as Alfred Parisien touched down after a neat grubber from Berdeu exposed space in behind.
Berdeu and Davies exchanged penalties before the French side pulled further ahead, scrum half Jonathan Pelissie diving in under the posts after a kind bounce in midfield.
However, Dragons hit back on the stroke of half-time as prop Doge powered over from close range and Davies converted from out wide to cut the lead to 22-13.
Hopes of a fightback were dealt a bodyblow 90 seconds after the restart as Davit Niniashvili swatted off tackles to battle up to the line before a cross field kick picked out Dumortier for his second.
Dragons, though, showed resolve and landed a blow back within five minutes when prop Seiuli bulldozed over for his first try for the region.
Repeated penalties saw visiting centre Thibaut Regard yellow carded and suddenly the home side sensed an opening.
That was heightened just before the hour mark when Wainwright intercepted and ran half the field to dive over.
Berdeu looked to settle any nerves with two penalties while Davies – via a post – slotted three more points of his own to keep it within seven.
Lyon were again reduced to 14 men – this time until the end of the game - when Mickael Ivaldi was sin binned for a high tackle and not retreating ten metres from a quick tap.
But Berdeu was again deadly accurate from the tee to extend the lead as Lyon were any to hold firm under late pressure to take the win.
10m Dumortier t 0-5
19m Davies p 3-5
21m Parisien t Berdeu c 3-12
27m Berdeu p 3-15
30m Davies p 6-15
36m Pelissie t Berdeu c 6-22
40m Doge t Davies c 13-22
42m Dumortier t Berdeu c 13-29
47m Seiuli t 18-29
58m Wainwright t Davies c 25-29
62m Berdeu p 25-32
65m Davies p 28-32
68m Berdeu p 28-35
74m Berdeu p 28-38
80m Berdeu p 28-41
Dragons: Josh Lewis, Jonah Holmes, Adam Warren, Aneurin Owen (Roberts 76), Rio Dyer, Sam Davies, Tavis Knoyle; Aki Seiuli (Reynolds 62), Taylor Davies (Benjamin 75), Mesake Doge (Brown 40), Joe Davies (Maksymiw 72), Ben Carter, Harrison Keddie (Taylor 74), Taine Basham, Aaron Wainwright
Replacements: James Benjamin, Josh Reynolds, Leon Brown, Joe Maksymiw, Huw Taylor, Dan Babos, Jamie Roberts, Jared Rosser
Lyon: Clément Laporte, Ethan Dumortier, Alfred Parisien, Thibaut Regard, Davit Niniashvili, Leo Berdeu, Jonathan Pélissié; Vivien Devisme, Yanis Charcosset, Demba Bamba, Killian Geraci, Temo Mayanavanua, Felix Lambey, Beka Saginadze, Colby Fainga'a.
Replacements: Mickael Ivaldi, Jérôme Rey, Hamza Kaabèche, Mickael Guillard, Dylan Cretin, Liam Rimet, Charlie Ngatai, Alexandre Tchaptchet
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (England)