Spirited Dragons make point at champions
Dragons produced a thrilling second half fightback to secure a deserved try bonus point and push champions DHL Stormers all the way in the BKT United Rugby Championship in Gqeberha.
The Stormers made it 15 straight home wins in the championship as they wrapped up a convincing win at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
But they had to withstand a stunning second 40 points from the Men of Gwent who grabbed a point after Josh Reynolds late score.
The South Africans were brutally efficient in the opening half as they built a commanding lead and wrapped up the bonus point in scorching conditions.
But Jordan Williams and Aki Seuili went over either side of the interval to spark a spirited fightback and JJ Hanrahan finished of a superb team move before Reynolds late score.
Dragons made seven changes to the side that narrowly lost to Lions, with Wales international hooker Bradley Roberts among those to return.
Roberts was soon in the thick of the action as Dragons looked to hold Stormers in their own half in the opening exchanges while Matthew Screech won a crucial turnover.
The home side looked to go through the hands to open gaps before turning to their driving maul for the opening score with late back row replacement Junior Pokomela going over.
A penalty at scrum time gave Stormers another attacking platform and they repeated the earlier maul score, with hooker Dweba the man to crash over.
The Stormers thought they had a third when wing Tristan Leyds picked off a pass, but play come back for an earlier knock on in the build-up.
But it was only a temporary reprieve as a stunning team score, as Stormers went through the hands at pace, saw Ruhan Nel go over after a near length of the field try.
Stormers were putting huge pressure on at the set piece as they won repeated penalties at scrum time before Sean Lonsdale stole a lineout to try and halt the relentless blue wave of pressure.
There was no stopping fly half Manie Libbok just before the break as he stepped inside two tacklers to score another brilliant solo effort from just inside his own half.
Stormers desire to play at all costs bit them after the first half hooter as Jordan Williams picked off an ambitious pass on halfway to score.
Dragons enjoyed some momentum at the start of the second period with Roberts barrelling through tacklers, but the whistle of referee Murphy halted the attack.
When Stormers went off their feet at the breakdown in the shadow of their own posts the kick went to then corner and Aki Seiuli crashed over for a second try for the Men of Gwent.
Home fly half Manie Libbok stopped the flow of points with penalty.
Dragons were creating more opportunities in the second period with a Hanrahan cross kick just running dead before a frantic counter saw Steff Hughes touch back under huge pressure.
Sio Tomkinson was harshly yellow carded for taking a man out off the ball and Libbok added three more points.
Dragons continued to battle away with replacement Aneurin Owen coming off worse as he limped off and was replaced by Will Reed just after the hour.
A superb team score saw Ben Fry make a line break and feed Keddie, Jones and Hanrahan with the playmaker scoring after slick handling.
And the deserved try bonus point was wrapped up as Josh Reynolds bulldozed his way over five minutes from time.
10m Pokomela t Libbok c 7-0
16m Dweba t Libbok c 14-0
23m Nel t Libbok c 21-0
36m Libbok t Blommetjies c 28-0
40m J. Williams t Hanrahan c 28-7
47m Seiuli t 28-12
51m Libbok p 31-12
58m Libbok p 34-12
71m Hanrahan t Hanrahan c 34-19
75m Reynolds t Reed c 34-26
DHL Stormers: Clayton Blommetjies, Tristan Leyds, Ruhan Nel, Dan du Plessis, Leolin Zas, Manie Libbok, Herschel Jantjies; Kwenzo Blose, Joseph Dweba, Neethling Fouche, Salmaan Moerat, Marvin Orie, Junior Pokomela, Willie Engelbrecht, Hacjivah Dayimani
Replacements: JJ Kotze, Brok Harris, Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, Connor Evans, Deon Fourie, Paul de Wet, Kade Wolhuter, Mnombo Zwelendaba
Dragons RFC: Angus O’Brien (Clark 60), Sio Tomkinson, Steff Hughes, Max Clark (Owen 58 (Reed 62)), Jordan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Rhodri Williams (Jones 58); Aki Seiuli (Reynolds 72), Bradley Roberts (Benjamin 58), Lloyd Fairbrother (Coleman 40), Matthew Screech, Sean Lonsdale, Huw Taylor (Keddie 45), Aaron Wainwright, Ross Moriarty (Fry 67)
Replacements: James Benjamin, Josh Reynolds, Chris Coleman, Harri Keddie, Ben Fry, Lewis Jones, Will Reed, Aneurin Owen
Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU, 70th league game)