Dragons have faced Bristol twice in the European Challenge Cup before as the teams met during the 2006/07 season. Ahead of Friday’s showdown, we look back at those two games and start with the clash at the Memorial Stadium…
Bristol 11 Dragons 7 – October 27, 2006
Ex-Newport outside-half Jason Strange booted the Dragons to Challenge Cup defeat at the Memorial Stadium in Round Two of the 2006/07 European Challenge Cup.
The Welshman kicked a penalty in each half as the English Premiership leaders Bristol edged a scrappy and rugged match.
Bristol back-rower Dan Ward-Smith bagged the only try of the first half, but in-form Dragons winger Aled Brew cancelled it out after the break.
Ceri Sweeney's conversion cut the gap to one and - despite Strange's second kick - the Dragons left with what could be a crucial bonus point.
After a successful start for both sides in the opening round of games the previous week, this was a top-of-the-table clash that both sides desperately wanted to win.
Gareth Llewellyn renewed acquaintences with many of his former international team-mates and the stage was set for a potential Welsh regional victory on English soil.
In the end, the match proved a niggly affair with both sides playing tight rugby attempting to leave it as late as possible to grind a result out.
An unconverted Ward-Smith try on 33 minutes, followed by a Strange penalty just before half-time, following a yellow card for Aled Brew, saw Bristol 8-0 ahead at half time.
Dragons offered very little in the opening forty minutes, but seemed to benefit from Brew’s sin-binning.
The winger’s ten minutes on the bench only seemed to whet his appetite for action as he returned to the field and to cut the deficit to three points with a 54th minute try which Sweeney converted.
The game remained deadlocked for the next twenty minutes with Kieran Crawford joining the field for eight minutes as a blood replacement for Ben Daly the only note of excitement.
Richard Fussell replaced Brew on 71 minutes before Bristol struck the killer blow with a second Strange penalty on 76 minutes.
Four minutes on the clock and only four points adrift the Dragons pushed ahead looking for a crucial try but to no avail.
However, the loss by less than seven points kept the Dragons close enough to earn a bonus point and ensure second place in the table at the end of Round Two.
Bristol: C Morgan; Stanojevic, Higgitt, Cox, Lemi; Strange, Perry (O’Riordan 40); Clarke (Hilton 79), Regan, Hobson (Thompson 51); Winters, Llewellyn; Budgett, To'oala (Short 44), Ward-Smith
Replacements: O'Riordan, Hilton, Thompson, Short, Blaney, Gray, Arscott
Dragons: Morgan; N Brew, Emerick, Smith, A Brew (Fussell 73); Sweeney, Cooper; Black, Daly (Crawford 49), Harrison; Gough 9Corsi 53), Charteris (Sidoli 50); Owen, Charvis, Fitisemanu (Hall 35)
Replacements: Walker, Crawford, Hercus, Fussell, Corsi, Sidoli, Hall
Referee: Eric Darriere (France)
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Bristol back-rower Dan Ward-Smith bagged the only try of the first half, but in-form Dragons winger Aled Brew cancelled it out after the break...