Dragons edged an entertaining Ebbw Vale encounter in freezing conditions at Eugene Cross Park by four points with fly half Evan Lloyd’s place kicking the difference between the two teams who shared four tries apiece.
Following on from the Celtic Cup , the Dragons A starting XV again comprised bags of youthful experience but they endured a challenging first forty minutes against World Cup hopefuls Hong Kong. Early pressure and possession from the visitors was turned into points in the first ten minutes when back row Mike Parfitt scored the opening try and Ben Rimene added the extras for a seven-nil lead.
The Dragons surged back with Hong Kong conceding penalties and territory, but they spurned an opportunity to force a driving maul over from a 5-metre lineout and after twenty-five minutes Evan Lloyd sent a 40-metre effort just wide in what turned out to be his only blemish as the Dragons’ endeavour to get the scoreboard ticking went in vain.
A fast paced first half saw both teams lack the composure to add to the score, with Dragons’ attacks twice thwarted a few metres out from the try line and opposition counter-attacks led by their dangerous back line. The best chance for Hong Kong fell to Max Denmark who knocked on attempting to ground a grubber kick through following an end to end move.
However, once in the Dragons 22’ Hong Kong did force their way over for a second try by scrum half Liam Slatem who found enough space around the fringes to complete a close-range effort.
Dragons managed to hit back approaching half time, after a break by full back Carwyn Penny put centre Tom Hoppe in and Evan Lloyd added the conversion.
Unfortunately, on the stroke of half time, the Dragons conceded a third try with flanker Toby Fenn driving over after collecting an overthrown line out to give World Cup hopefuls Hong Kong a 19-7 lead at the break.
There were five changes for the Dragons at half time with a new front row of Lawrence, Bevington and Suter, on for Reynolds, Griffiths and Coleman, whilst Joe Davies replaced Ben Fry and Jack Dixon came on for Connor Edwards.
The fresh legs make an impact for the Dragons and fifteen minutes into the second half after a period of pressure for the home team, Ryan Bevington spotted half a gap to power over under the sticks, with Lloyd slotting the extras to cut the deficit to 14-19.
Experience continued to count for the Dragons and Ben Fry got a third score for the hosts in the corner to make the scores level following a driving maul. Lloyd banged over the conversion from the touchline to give the Dragons the lead for the first time.
In an end to end second half, there were two tries in two minutes as Casey Stone finished a sweeping move for Hong Kong for the seventh try of the night. Full back Hood took over kicking duties with Rimene replaced, but he could only rattle the sticks with a very kickable conversion.
Moments later after a searing burst by wing George Gasson, replacement scrum half Dan Babos dived over under the posts to re-take the lead for the Dragons into the final ten minutes with Lloyd converting for a fourth time, to make the score 28-24.
Both teams continued to press for further scores, but that’s how it ended, as the Dragons closed out the win despite errors for both sides in the final minutes.
Dragons: Tries - Hoppe, Bevington, Fry, Babys; Conversions - Lloyd (4)
Hong Kong: Tries - Parfitt, Slatem, Fenn, Stone; Conversions - Rimene (2)