DRAGONS LOSE OUT TO CONNACHT
By Joe Crocker
An expectant Rodney Parade crowd, buoyed on by the Grand Slam stars, Dan Lydiate, Toby Faletau and Luke Charteris as well as the perfect conditions left disappointed following 19-27 defeat to Connacht.
6297, a record crowd for a home game against the Irish province, were certainly in good voice throughout the match cheering on their heroes as they looked for their 5th win in 6 games but Connacht were more organised and hungry.
A lacklustre first half saw the Dragons concede four converted penalties and Welsh talisman Lydiate sin-binned although it was the Dragons that took an early lead when outside-half Lewis Robling slotted over a 3rd minute penalty. Despite the attacking intention from the Dragons it was the visitors who scored the only try of the first half when some slick passing exposed a hole in the home defence to allow winger Fetu'u Vainikolo to score near the touchline. A great conversion by Miah Nikora allowed Connacht a lead which they held onto for the rest of the game. Nikora added the four penalties and another two by Robling brought the first half to a finish with the Dragons trailing 9-19.
Connacht flew out of the blocks in the second half and Vainikolo, who switched wings with Tiernan O'Halloran before the game, crossed for his brace in the 41st minute. The Dragons started to take some control on the game soon after the try and through some pressure deep in the Connacht half scored a penalty by Robling, a try by Faletau and a conversion by Steffan Jones, only interrupted by another Nikora penalty. Steffan Jones' disappointment was evident as a last minute penalty miss denied the Dragons a losing bonus point.
Skipper Luke Charteris told of the team's disappointment in the performance and how they struggled to keep the ball in a game they knew would be tough. "The missed tackles in the first half killed off the game and now we'll have to review the game and re-evaluate but we will try to bounce back stronger."
An honest appraisal from the frustrated Dragons coach, Darren Edwards, was that the team were, "well beaten, we let ourselves down badly, especially after recent results and got what we deserved - no excuses," although he promised that the team would be "back out doing the hard work" in time for the next fixture against Treviso in two weeks.”