Dragons produced a stunning second half comeback at Rodney Parade to snatch a last gasp victory over Toyota Cheetahs in the Guinness PRO14, writes Adam Evans.
Rodney Parade didn’t present the fixture with the kindest of weather with the match being played under horrendous blustery and wet conditions which resulted in a high number of kicks from both sides.
Cheetahs’ openside flanker Junior Pokomela crossed over for the first try of the evening and the visitors held out Dragons for the entire first half.
Dragons bounced back in the second to half after Jared Rosser crossed over and in a remarkable finish it was Sam Davies who. snatched a last gasp victory with a penalty.
Dean Ryan made three alterations from last weekend’s encounter with Glasgow Warriors as Aaron Jarvis, Will Talbot-Davies and Taine Basham who returned from Wales duties all started.
The big news prior to the kick-off was Matthew Screech making his 100th appearance in the Guinness PRO14.
Dragons found themselves behind early on after Jack Dixon’s kick was charged down by an aware Janse van Rensburg; in the following phases Pokomela put his head down to bundle over.
Dixon posed the biggest threat of the first 40 minutes for the home side as he charged Tian Schoeman’s clearing kick down, however, the tough weather conditions didn’t favour the attack as the ball was fumbled in what appeared to be a promising build up.
The home side started the second half with intent straight from kick off, which they successfully did as Davies kicked over the penalty after the Cheetahs were penalized for having hands in the ruck.
Man-of-the -match Basham inspired the attack to level the scores after he broke the South African’s defensive line.
A chip over the top from Dixon was weighted to perfection to allow Rosser to collect the ball without altering his stride and crossed over for the try.
Despite applying a lot of late pressure, the Cheetahs’ defence remained difficult to break down and denied the Dragons until the dying embers.
The final piece of dramatic action of the match the visitors looked to run from deep, conceded a penalty and saw Davies step up and slot home a penalty to complete a dramatic comeback.
08m Pokomela t Schoeman c 0-7
10m Schoeman p 0-10
42m Davies p 3-10
56m Rosser t Davies c 10-10
80m Davies p 13-10
Dragons: Will Talbot-Davies, Jared Rosser, Adam Warren, Jack Dixon, Ashton Hewitt, Sam Davies, Rhodri Williams (Knoyle 68); Aaron Jarvis (Reynolds 47), Ellis Shipp, Lloyd Fairbrother, Joe Davies (Nansen 71), Matthew Screech, Harrison Keddie (Evans 61), Taine Basham, Ollie Griffiths
Replacements: Rhys Lawrence, Josh Reynolds, Chris Coleman, Brandon Nansen, Lewis Evans, Tavis Knoyle, Jacob Botica, Joe Goodchild
Toyota Cheetahs: Clayton Blommetjies, Rhyno Smith, William Small-Smith, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Craig Barry (Fouche 68), Tian Schoeman, Ruan Pienaar; Boan Venter (Marais 32), Wilmar Arnoldi (Dweba 65), Luan de Bruin (Coetzee 32), Sintu Manjezi, Walt Steenkamp (Du Preez 59), Gehard Olivier, Junior Pokomela (Koen 61), Aidon Davis
Replacements: Joseph Dweba, Charles Marais, Aranos Coetzee, JP du Preez, Sias Koen, Tian Meyer, Louis Fouche, Chris Smit
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)