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Adam Warren pounced to give Bernard Jackman’s mix of regional stars and promising Premiership talent an early lead before they were pegged back by the hosts, who were able to field a different XV in each half.

Outside-half Dorian Jones led the fight-back with a stunning solo score before Jarred Rosser closed the gap to seven points. But the fresh legs of the Saints proved too much for the inexperienced Dragons, who were powerless to stop a flurry of late tries.

The Dragons got off to a flying start at the home of the Saints. Jones piled the pressure on the hosts with a pressurising kick that forced Ben Foden into conceding a lineout five metres from his own line - and the Men of Gwent made them pay.

Jones received the ball at first receiver and delivered a delicate chip over the defence and into the outstretched arms of Warren, who squirmed over to score. Jones converted to make it 7-0 after only two minutes.

The early scare shocked Northampton into action and they were soon level through centre Tom Stevenson, who darted past Jones from a lineout and went all the way before James Grayson landed the conversion from out-wide. Jim Mallinder’s men were in-front moments later when they won turnover ball and spun it wide to wing Tom Collins, who raced over to score.

Dragons no.8 Robson Blake almost pulled a score back but was held-up, and instead it was the Saints who got their third try when hooker Mikey Hayward powered over from close-range. Jamie Gibson’s score made it 26-7 before Jones used his boot to get the visitors back on track.

The fly-half’s grubber kick was fumbled by the opposition before Jones hacked through and beat Ben Foden to the ball over the try line to make it 26-14 at half-time.

Half Time: Northampton Saints 26 - Dragons 14

The Dragons drew first-blood in the second-half with an opportunistic score from Rosser. The flying wing pounced on a loose pass and took the ball all the way back for a try which Jones converted to narrow the gap to five points.

But the Saints rallied to restore their two-try lead. They won a scrum against the head and made inroads into the Dragons defence before hooker Charlie Clare crashed over. Mitch Eadie then crossed in his first appearance for the Saints to take the Saints 40-21 clear. David Ribbans, Nafi Tuitavake and Harry Mallinder hammered home the advantage before Clare and Lewis Ludlam completed the scoring.

Full Time: Northampton Saints 71 - Dragons 21

Dragons team

15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Jared Rosser, 13 Adam Warren, 12 Connor Edwards, 11 Joe Goodchild, 10 Dorian Jones, 9 Owain Leonard; 1 Luke Garrett, 2 Liam Belcher, 3 Brok Harris ©, 4 Henri Williams (RGC), 5 Rynard Landman, 6 Morgan Allen (Bedwas), 7 Dawid Rubasniak, 8 Robson Blake.

Replacements: Gerard Ellis, Keagan Bale, Dan Suter, Rhys Jenkins (Newport RFC), Andrew Waite (Bedwas), James Leadbetter (Cross Keys), Matt O’Brien (Newport RFC), Barney Nightingale.

 

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