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REPORT | Dragons 38 Russia 24

Six-try Dragons claimed the impressive scalp of Rugby World Cup qualifiers Russia with a battling 38-24 victory at Bedwas RFC on Friday night.

Ben Mottram | 16/11/2018

On a night when Dragons took rugby back out on the regional road, a healthy crowd at the Bridgefield were treated to a pulsating encounter that flowed from end to end. 

Deon Smith, Rhys Lawrence and Ben Fry grabbed first half tries for the Dragons and further second half scores from man-of-the-match Rhodri Davies, Jack Dixon and a last minute effort from Dafydd Howells secured a famous win.

The result meant Dragons have defeated Hong Kong and Russia on their travels this autumn, as they now prepare to return to Guinness PRO14 action next weekend against Edinburgh.

It was Russia who made the early running and they went ahead inside five minutes when back row Alexader Ilin flew over, after an initial dart from scrum half Vasily Dorofeev.

The response from Dragons, though, was immediate as the ball was shipped wide to wing Smith who showed his raw pace to blaze down the flank to slide over and cut the lead to 7-5.

All-action flanker Ben Fry broke down the middle, after neat hands from the back line, and the Dragons won a penalty for Josh Lewis to pump into the corner. 

The Dragons pack then went to work on a driving lineout, with hooker Lawrence the man to dot down.

Fly half Rail Gaisin levelled up the scores at the midpoint of the half with a penalty.

But the home forwards were beginning to menacingly go about their work and, after another clean break from the free-running Howells, a kick to the corner saw yet more lineout pressure and Fry this time smash over.

Russia were reduced to 14 men before the break, with scrum half Dorofeev sent to the sin bin for a professional foul after Jack Dixon crashed past two tacklers. 

Back row Huw Taylor charged down a Russian clearing kick and Davies also blocked a clearance, but the visitors held out to the break despite being a man down. 

When they were back to full numbers the Bears scored a well-worked second try of the night, back row Anton Sychev blasting over and Gaisin drawing the teams level.

However, the game was to be settled thanks to two moments of fine individual skill from scrum half Davies.

Firstly, he brushed off two weak tacklers inside the Russia 22 and raced in under the posts with half an hour to play.

Then, just moments later, Davies set up try of the night as he took a high kick and broke away in midfield, showing all his electric pace and footwork, before the ball was kept alive and went through the hands of Tom Hoppe and James Benjamin before skipper Dixon dived in. 

Russia hit back, flanker Ilin bashing his way over a pile of bodies close to the line, and as drizzle started to fall the game was suddenly back in the balance.

Dragons were on the back foot for much of the final period, but they withheld a strong Russian charge.

And the home side had the final word as wing Howells showed all his finishing skills as he exploited the smallest of gaps and stepped past two men to score with the final play of the match.

Timeline:

05m Ilin t Gaisin c 0-7

06m Smith t 5-7

16m Lawrence t 10-7

20m Gaisin p 10-10

23m Fry t Lewis c 17-10

46m Sychev t Gaisin c 17-17

50m Davies t Lewis c 24-17

55m Dixon t Lewis c 31-17

59m Ilin t Gaisin c 31-24

80m Howells t Lloyd c 38-24

Dragons: Carwyn Penny, Dafydd Howells, Tom Hoppe, Jack Dixon, Deon Smith, Josh Lewis (Lloyd 73), Rhodri Davies (Babos 59); Ryan Bevington (Ellis 78), Rhys Lawrence (Shipp 77), Aaron Jarvis (Coleman 78), Joe Davies (Thomas 68), Rynard Landman, Huw Taylor, Ben Fry, James Benjamin (Greggains 66)

Replacements: Ellis Shipp, Gerard Ellis, Chris Coleman, James Thomas, Lennon Greggains, Dan Babos, Evan Lloyd, Llew Smith

Russia: German Godlyuk, Nikita Churashov, Mikhail Babaev, Sergei Trishin, Daniil Potikhanov, Ramil Gaisin, Vasily Dorofeev; Sergei Sekisov, Evgeny Mateev (c), Evgeny Pronenko, Alexei Panasenko, Alexader Ilin, Anton Sychev, Roman Khodin, Vitaly Zhivatov.

Replacements: Leonid Kalinin, Andrei Polivalov, Anton Drozdov, Evgeny Elgin, Nikita Vavilin, Timur Ismailov, Vladimir Ostroushko, Vasily Artemyev. 

Referee: Simon Harding (England)

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