Dragons stun Scarlets in JDVII epic
Inspired Dragons sealed a first-ever Judgement Day victory by producing a stunning comeback to defeat Scarlets 34-32 in an epic Guinness PRO14 encounter at the Principality Stadium.
Matthew Screech’s late bonus point try and Jason Tovey’s ice-cool conversion sent the Dragons ahead, before Rhys Patchell’s last gasp drop goal attempt was unsuccessful to spark huge celebrations.
Dragons had found themselves 17-6 down at the interval in the capital.
However, an unforgettable second half saw Screech, Jack Dixon and Josh Lewis go over in eight sensational second half minites before Screech’s late heroics and a breathtaking finale.
Head Coach Ceri Jones had made two changes from last time out as prop Lloyd Fairbrother and lock Joe Davies entered the starting line-up.
Dragons got off to a determined start and were awarded a penalty after three minutes on the edge of the 22-metre line, but at an angle.
Fly-half Lewis opted to kick for goal and slotted through the posts, which lit-up green for the first time at Judgement Day.
Then, 13 minutes later, Dragons were awarded another penalty inside the 22-metre area for offside.
In front of the posts, Lewis kicked again and his effort was successful, giving the region a six-point lead.
Dragons were dealt a blow and reduced to 14 men when wing Hallam Amos was shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on.
Just two minutes later Scarlets made the numercia advantage count, Ioan Nicholas diving over in the left corner and full-back Leigh Halfpenny converting to send them one point ahead.
Minutes later Scarlets’ Johnny McNicholl dived over the whitewash in the opposite corner after receiving Halfpenny’s pass, who then hit the post from the angled conversion.
Scarlets then scored a third try on the half-hour mark as scrum-half Gareth Davies dummied, before diving over in the left corner for a 17-6 lead at the break.
Following the interval, Dragons started strongly and after two minutes Number Eight Ross Moriarty thought he had scored a try – only for it to be disallowed by the TMO for a knock-on.
However, Dragons duly responded by crossing the try-line six minutes later through lock Screech, who finished off captain Elliot Dee’s swift tap-and-go. Lewis converted from the acute angle. Dave
Scarlets lock Dave Bulbring was sent to the sin-bin for an infringement at the breakdown, reducing Scarlets to 14 players, and Dragons took full advantage as centre Jack Dixon dived over.
Man-of-the-match Aaron Wainwright composedly exchanged passes with Amos close to the touchline, who then passed inside to Dixon to race over.
Lewis then showed his speed four minutes later by intercepting a pass from Dan Jones and racing through the posts before converting as Dragons opened up a ten-point lead.
Back came the Scarlets and on the hour mark Wales centre Jonathan Davies touched down in the corner for the visitors.
Moments later McNicholl competed his brace by speeding over at an angle and Halfpenny converted for the lead.
Halfpenny added a penalty with seven minutes left before the most dramatic of finishes.
A huge period of possession and patient play finally told as Screech reached for the line and, after a delay for TMO confirmation, the try was given for the bonus point.
Replacement Tovey held his nerve under huge pressure to convert from the narrow angle to send Dragons two points ahead.
There was still time for a dramatic ending as Scarlets won back possession with 40 seconds remaining and, after three minutes of relentless pressure, it was Patchell who took aim.
Hearts were in the mouth as his drop goal was sent goalwards from 40 metes, but it drifted narrowly wide as Dragons celebrated a second derby win of the season in unforgettable fashion.
03m Lewis p 3-0
16m Lewis p 6-0
19m Nicholas t Halfpenny c 6-7
26m McNicholl t 6-12
31m G Davies t 6-17
48m Screech t Lewis c 13-17
53m Dixon t Lewis c 20-17
56m Lewis p Lewis c 27-17
61m J Davies t 27-22
65m McNicholl t Halfpenny c 27-29
73m Halfpenny p 27-32
79m Screech t Tovey c 34-32
Dragons Rugby: Jordan Williams, Zane Kirchner (Rosser 66), Adam Warren, Jack Dixon, Hallam Amos, Josh Lewis (Tovey 68), Rhodri Williams (Knoyle 76); Ryan Bevington (Brown 62), Elliot Dee (Hibbard 73), Lloyd Fairbrother (Harris 62), Joe Davies (Basham 67), Matthew Screech, Lewis Evans, Aaron Wainwright, Ross Moriarty
Replacements: Richard Hibbard, Brok Harris, Leon Brown, Max Williams, Taine Basham, Tavis Knoyle, Jason Tovey, Jared Rosser.
Scarlets Rugby: Leigh Halfpenny, Johnny McNicholl, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Ioan Nicholas, Dan Jones (Patchell 56), Gareth Davies (Hardy 70); Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Samson Lee (Kruger 66), Dave Bulbring, Steve Cummins, Will Boyde, Josh Macleod (Thomson 49), Uzair Cassiem.
Replacements: Marc Jones, Phil Price, Werner Kruger, Blade Thomson, Josh Helps, Kieran Hardy, Rhys Patchell, Kieron Fonotia.
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU)