Newport Gwent Dragons make it three wins out of three for December after a 25-11 triumph over Zebre Rugby in the Guinness PRO12 this evening.
Tries from Ross Wardle, Hallam Amos, Rynard Landman helped the Dragons maintain their winning streak, which saw them leapfrog the Italians in the league table.
Tom Prydie put the Welsh Region in front after seven minutes as he successfully kicked a penalty atoning for an earlier miss, but Kelly Haimona soon levelled the scores for the visitors with a penalty of his own.
The home side were the first to cross the whitewash with a try courtesy of Ross Wardle. It was through some smart play from Jonathan Evans as he collected a high kick and darted through a hole in the Zebre defence. Evans offloaded to Prydie who made further ground and put the ball wide to Wardle. The centre, gathering the bobbling pass, jinked his way inside the covering defence and burrowed his way over the line. Prydie added the extras to put the Dragons firmly in front after 25mins.
Both teams went on to give away cheap penalties but the opposing kickers found the going difficult in blustery conditions with both missing kicks in the first half. Haimona though seemed to adjust slightly quicker than Prydie and slotted Zebres second penalty of the evening.
With the first half drawing to a close, Zebre’s Italian international flanker Mauro Bergamasco was found guilty of intentionally lying on the wrong side of the ruck and was promptly sent to the bin by Irish referee, Gary Conway. With the clock gone past 40 minutes the Dragons looked to Prydie who navigated the swirling winds to land another penalty.
Half-Time: Dragons 13 – Zebre 6
The second half started as the first had ended with Zebre and Italy wing Leonardo Sarto receiving a yellow card for an illegal tackle on Brok Harris. With the visitors now down to 13 men the Dragons took full advantage as Hallam Amos crossed the try-line for the Welsh region. The sweeping move saw the Dragons move the ball well to exploit the gaps left by the men in the sin bin. With Prydie unable to add the extras the score stood at 18-6.
The Dragons took further advantage of the numerical difference as some clever kicking to the corners by Jason Tovey and a snaffled lineout by captain Rynard Landman saw the Dragons regain possession deep inside the opposition 22m. Some neat play once again saw the Dragons make full use of the extra players to cross the whitewash, with Landman this time the beneficiary. Prydie converted the try to make it 15 points for the Dragons while the Zebre team was down to 13 men, 25-6.
With half an hour left to play and three tries already in the bag the home support would have been hoping for one more to get a crucial bonus point, it was the away team though who got the next score as they snuck down the Dragons blind side from a driving maul, Andrea Manici claimed the try which went unconverted.
The final ten minutes saw the Dragons pressure the Italian outfit looking for the bonus point try, it didn’t come though and they were made to settle for four welcome league points which will go some way to galvanising the team ahead of the crucial festive derbies.
Newport Gwent Dragons Team
Tow Prydie, Matthew Pewtner, Ross Wardle, Jack Dixon, Hallam Amos, Jason Tovey, Jonathan Evans; Phil Pirce, T. Rhys Thomas, Brok Haris, Andrew Coombs, Rynard Landman ©, James Thomas, Nic Cudd, Taulupe Faletau.
Zebre Rugby Team
Hendrik Daniller, Giovanbattista Venditti, Giulio Bisegni, Matteo Pratichetti, Leonardo Sarto, Kelly Haimona, Brendon Leonard; Andrea Lovotti, Andrea Manici, Dario Chistolini, Quintin Geldenhuys, Marco Bortolami ©, Filippo Cristiano, Mauro Bergamasco, Andries Van Schalkwyk.
Referee: Gary Conway (Ireland)
Man of the Match: Jason Tovey (Newport Gwent Dragons)