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DRAGONS WIN EPIC ENCOUNTER

By Dave Wilkinson

By Dave Wilkinson

The Newport Gwent Dragons produced a fine display to earn a memorable bonus point victory over the Ospreys and complete their first ever league double against their regional rivals.

The Dragons led 13-10 at half time thanks to an Ashley Smith try and the boot of Jason Tovey with the Ospreys points coming through Ryan Jones and Dan Biggar.

A Wayne Evans try and a quick fire Aled Brew double early in the second half provided the Dragons with a commanding 32-11 lead. Despite an Ospreys come-back through tries from Tommy Bowe and Nikki Walker the Men of Gwent were not to be denied as they held on to clinch a thrilling and much deserved win.

It was the visitors, boasting a strong side packed with internationals, who took an early lead through a Dan Biggar penalty after just three minutes. This lead was short-lived however, as the Dragons capitalised on turnover ball spreading wide to Ashley Smith. The centre sent man-of the-match, Toby Faletau, into space before receiving the return pass to score the first try of the game. Tovey converted leaving scores 7-3.

The frenetic pace to the game continued as just five minutes later the Ospreys were back in the lead through a Ryan Jones’ try. The Ospreys forced an error as the Dragons looked to attack from deep with Jones eventually crashing over in the corner. Biggar missed the conversion but the score was all the more costly as stand-in full back, Will Harries, was injured in the build-up.

Jason Tovey added two quick fire penalties as the Dragons regained the lead, the talking point of the half however, was Brew spurning a golden opportunity after failing to collect a fine Jason Tovey kick with the try line beckoning. Biggar added a penalty late in the half to make the sores 13-10 at the interval.

After a low scoring first half, the Rodney Parade faithful would scarcely have wished for what they were about to see as referee Nigel Owens blew the whistle for the start of the second half. After just three minutes Wayne Evans scored a close range try following fantastic charge from the superb Faletau and some great forwards work. Tovey added the conversion, handing the Dragons a 20-11 lead.

Within minutes the Dragons were firmly in charge thanks to the inspired Aled Brew. The winger made amends for his earlier error as he first capitalised on a Tommy Bowe mistake to score. The Irish and Lions’ winger looked in complete control as he ran back to clear a Tovey kick, Bowe however, produced an embarrassing air shot, allowing Brew to pounce and extend the lead.

The second score for Brew, surely one of his most satisfying scores for the Dragons, came as he powered down the flank before scorching past James Hook to touch down, much to delight of the raucous home crowd. Matthew Jones, brought on to replace Will Harries, added the extras to give the Dragons a commanding 32-11 lead.

With the game seemingly in the bag for the Dragons, the visitors suddenly sparked into life, owing much to the switch of James Hook from centre to fly half. The first was scored by Bowe atoning for his earlier mistake with a scything run though the Dragons’ defence to reduce the deficit. Then just minutes later a fine James Hook cross-field kick was collected by Nikki Walker to score in the far corner. Hook converted to make the scores 32-25.

With fifteen minutes remaining a James Hook penalty started nerves jangling for the home side but some heroic defending kept the Ospreys scoreless and the Dragons held on for surely one of the most memorable victories at Rodney Parade.

Score Summary:
Dragons
Tries: A Brew 2, Smith, Evans Conversions: Tovey, M Jones 2 Penalties: Tovey 2
Ospreys
Tries: Ryan Jones, Bowe, Walker Conversions: Hook 2 Penalties: Biggar 2, Hook

Teams:
Newport-Gwent Dragons: Harries; Hughes, Riley, Smith, A Brew; Tovey, W Evans; Price, Burns, Castle, Coombs, A Jones, Lydiate, Faletau, G Thomas.

Replacements: M Jones for Harries (10), Bearman for Lydiate, (60), Gustafson for Price (temp 27-34), S Jones for Burns (69), Way for Castle, (73), L Evans for Coombs (63)
Not Used: Pewtner, J Evans.

Ospreys: Byrne; Bowe, Bishop, Hook, Walker; Biggar, Webb; James, Bennett, A Jones, R Jones, A W Jones, Smith, Collins, Holah.

Replacements: Bevington for James (55), Isaacs for Webb (55), Hibbard for Bennett (48), Griffiths for A. Jones (55), Parker for Collins (55), Tipuric for Holah (55), Gough for R Jones (50), Fussell for Bishop (60).

Att: 5,496
Ref: N Owens (WRU).
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