The Men of Gwent withstood an almighty comeback from the Blues with just 5 minutes on the clock and ended up with the spoils as they took the away a win of 25-21.
The Dragons will now take on either London Irish or Edinburgh Rugby in the semi-finals away from home, which is set to be decided tomorrow (Sunday 5th April) in the final European Challenge Cup quarterfinal match.
The Dragons came out of the starting blocks very slow as the Blues went on the attack as soon as the whistle was blown. With a charge down on Jason Tovey’s kick the Blues were playing with an edge as they made their way closer to the Dragons try line. It was Josh Navidi who was stopped just short of the line by the Dragons defence which held strong, until scrum-half Lloyd Williams sniped through for a try within the first five minutes of the game. Anscombe converted the try, which put the Blues into the lead.
Unfortunately for the Dragons, lock Andrew Coombs was taken out injured in the 12th minute and with no second row on the bench, James Thomas moved next to Cory Hill as Taulupe Faletau made it to the pitch.
The Blues managed to move further in front of the Dragons in the 25th minute as Gareth Anscombe found a gap in the Dragons defence and crossed the white wash. He added the conversion to his own try and the Blues were in a comfortable lead.
With just five minutes left on the clock the Dragons knew that they needed to add points to their score before the whistle for half time blew. It was Hallam Amos who came to their rescue as he darted through the away defence to go over the line. After much deliberation from the referee and TMO the try was given as it was deemed that there wasn’t any blocking from young centre Jack Dixon, Prydie converted the try.
Half Time: Dragons 10 – Cardiff Blues 14
The second half saw another injury to the Dragons forwards, this time it was James Thomas who was knocked to the ground and had to be helped off with Nic Cudd coming on as a replacement.
Flanker Nic Cudd went over for the Dragons second try which put them into the lead. With a kick to touch from Tovey. A driving lineout from the pack meant that Cudd reached the ball over the try line but Prydie failed to convert as he hit the posts which meant that the Dragons had a lead of just one point 15-14.
But now the Dragons had had a taste of being in the lead which they looked to extend. The Dragons forcing the Blues to scramble their defence as the home side added more pressure on them in their scrum. Navidi passed the bal out the Lloyd Williams who attempted to kick away but was charged down by the Dragons scrumhalf Jonathan Evans. This resulted in a race to the ball only for Williams to pull on Evns’ shirt whilst he was without the ball, resulting in a yellow card for Williams and a penalty try for the Dragons which was converted by Prydie.
After a missed penalty kick from Prydie, Dorian Jones took over the kicking duites and slotted a peantly kick over in the 67th minute making it 25-14 to the home side.
But the visiotrs weren’t finshed there as they slipped through the Dagons defence once again and Navidi made it over the try line – Anscombe convered which moved the scores to 25-21 with around just 5mins left. Fortunaltye for the home side the Blues couldn’t find their way to the try line and it was Jack Dixon who gained possession and kicked the ball out as time was called on the game.
Full Time: Dragons 25- Blues 21
Newport Gwent Dragons:
Jason Tovey, Tom Prydie, Pat Leach, Jack Dixon, Hallam Amos, Dorian Jones, Jonathan Evans; Phil Price, T Rhys Thomas ©, Brok Harris, Andrew Coombs, Cory Hill, James Thomas, James Benjamin.
Dan Fish, Alex Cuthbert, Gavin Evans, Tavis Knoyle, Richard Smith, Gareth Anscombe, Lloyd Williams; Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees ©, Scott Andrews, Jarrad Hoeata, Lou Reed, Josh Turnbull, Sam Warburton, Josh Navidi.
Referee: JP Doyle
Man of the Match: Thomas Rhys Thomas