Newport Gwent Dragons have taken away a bonus point win from their opening round of the European Rugby Challenge Cup against Sale Sharks.
The Men of Gwent played some exciting rugby at Rodney Parade this afternoon which saw them run in four tries from Ollie Griffiths, skipper Rynard Landman, Adam Hughes and Matthew Screech.
The match began with a minute’s silence from both sides as a mark of respect for the tragedy which happened in Paris over the weekend; with Sale Sharks fly-half Nick Macloed kicking into the wind to begin play.
It was the opposition which dominated the opening minutes as a fast paced game ensued with a kick chase from the Sharks, however it didn’t work out well for the opposition as it ended with a Dragons penalty advantage.
A lovely run from Dragons scrum half Sarel Pretorius saw the Welsh Region fully enter the opposition half, an offload to young gun Ollie Griffiths saw the flanker cross the white wash for his first Dragons try but it wasn’t converted.
The English side weren’t happy and looked to go over for their own try as they made ground into the Dragons half. They were close to the try line but a pass out wide failed to find the hands of Tom Brady. With referee Alexandre Ruiz awarding the Sharks a penalty they didn’t go for the kick and decided to kick to the corner. It was a powerful driving maul that tried to break through a strong Dragons defence. But a few pick and drives later they eventually thought that they had driven over the line, but referee Ruiz wasn’t sure and went upstairs. After a few replays the ref deemed that the try was unsuccessful and the scores remained 5-0 to the home side.
After a fantastic spout of great defensive work, the Dragons found themselves on the halfway line. A lovely break from scrum half Pretorius saw the Dragons come close to charging over and an offload to Dorian Jones saw him find Rynard Landman to cross - Dorian Jones converts the try.
The Dragons weren’t finished there as they went over for a third try during the first half of the match. Rather than go for a penalty kick the team decided that they would go for the corner. The pack managed to create a space for Adam Hughes to crash over the white wash. Jones’ conversion went wide in the windy conditions and that was it at the break.
Half Time: Newport Gwent Dragons 17 – Sale Sharks 0
Seven minutes into the second half saw Sale Sharks claw points back with a break from fly half Nick Macleod who handed to James Mitchell to make it under the posts.
With 30 minutes left on the clock the Dragons were awarded a penalty and Jones opted for the posts. The kick was successful and the home side extended their lead to 20-7.
However, the Sharks struck back with their second try through a driving lineout. In the first instance, Dragons replacement prop Phil Price was sin-binned for pulling it down from the side and the second saw Sharks skipper Jon Mills go over. A penalty from Dorian Jones’ boot saw a lead of 23-12 with 15 minutes to go.
But it was the Dragons who made the perfect start to the competition as they secured the bonus point with an attack from Matthew Screech.
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (France)
Man of the Match: Rynard Landman