The Dragons came out fighting in the second half and were able to get themselves back into contention for the win by reducing a 19 point deficit to 5 points, but ended up falling short.
With a squad combining youth and experience the Dragons struggled to get into the game during the first half as visitors Exeter Chiefs opened the scoring with a try from ex-Dragon Adam Hughes. The try, which was converted by Ceri Sweeney, was a result from a sloppy offload from Andy Powell which found it’s way into Hughes’ hands for the centre to speed away to cross the white wash.
Another former Dragon, Sweeney created the next try for the visitors as he offloaded the ball to Vainikolo who beat Dragons debutant Carl Meyer to get the Chiefs second try. Though this time Sweeney missed the conversion.
Tom Prydie went on to exchange penalties with Sweeney, adding the Dragons first three points to the scoreboard.
After numerous cautions from the referee, Lloyd Fairbrother was yellow carded for repeat scrum offences before the break as Prydie and Sweeney once again exchanged penalties.
Halftime: Newport Gwent Dragons 6 – Exeter Chiefs 18
Making the most of the Dragons being a man down Tom James crossed the try line with Sweeney adding the extras to extend their lead to 25-6.
The Dragons finally managed to attack and with a five-metre line out they had their first try of the afternoon in their sights. It was Cory Hill who was at the bottom of the drive with Prydie making it three kicks from three.
But the visitors replied with a try of their own following some poor tackling from the Dragons backline, Sweeney though was unable to add the extras.
With the Dragons play looking a lot smoother throughout the second half it was replacement scrum half Luc Jones who went over from a lovely offload from skipper Ashley Smith. Prydie went on to convert with the Dragons gaining some much-needed confidence to fight back.
Next up was replacement Scott Matthews who, with some impressive play, crossed the line to take the Dragons third try of the night. But just as the Dragons looked like they were back in with a chance referee Greg McDonald, awarded the visitors a penalty try after numerous attempts at resetting an untidy scrum.
But it was the Dragons that had the final say of the game as on the final whistle fullback Jason Tovey, who was called up late to replace Geraint Rhys Jones, crossed in the corner with Prydie adding the extras.
Full Time: Newport Gwent Dragons 32 – Exeter Chiefs 37