Brilliant Dragons win Try Fest at Rodney Parade
A brilliant Dragons performance saw them claim derby day bragging rights in the opening round of the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup with an emphatic 52-32 victory over the Scarlets in a try fest at Rodney Parade.
Dragons scored seven tries in the enthralling encounter with Jordan Williams, Rio Dyer, Aneurin Owen, a brace from Aaron Wainwright and a double from man-of-the-match Jonah Holmes all going over the whitewash - alongside 17 points from the boot of Sam Davies - giving the home side a perfect start in the opening round of the competition.
The Scarlets scored five tries, with Iestyn Rees, a brace from Steff Evans, Dane Blacker and Johnny McNicholl all crossing the line, plus seven points from Sam Costelow, but it wasn’t enough as the West Walians suffered defeat in Newport.
Dragons opened their cup campaign with an impressive victory and will now travel to Cardiff to take on the Cardiff Blues in round two.
It was the home side who started the better and showed their attacking intent from the off, going through the phases and going wide at every opportunity.
The desire to play paid off as Davies made a lovely pass to full back Jordan Williams who then drew the man and wing Holmes did the rest showing his pace to leave Welsh international Jonathan Davies trailing and scoring the first try of the game.
Scarlets responded immediately with Steff Evans picking up the looseball before offloading to Iestyn Rees who scored on debut, Costelow converted to give the away side the lead after seven minutes.
Dragons struck again as a fantastic inside ball from Wainwright to Ross Moriarty sent him on his way before a pass back to the back row and after being tackled just short, some quick ball saw Jordan Williams over in the corner. Davies added the conversion and the home side led 12-7.
Dean Ryan’s men kept the pressure on but after losing a lineout deep in Scarlets territory it was the away side who scored the next points, Costelow with three points off the tee.
Dragons scored a third try of the match just before the half hour mark after Wainwright capitalised on a Scarlets mistake and after Holmes made huge yards with some powerful carrying it was that man Wainwright who finished off what he started after a brilliant offload from Moriarty. Davies missed the extras.
Scarlets responded in quick fashion after a fantastic line break from former Dragon Angus O’Brien who then drew the man to Dane Blacker and the scrum half gave it to Steff Evans to finish off in the corner. Costelow missed the conversion, leaving the score 17-15 to the home side.
For the first time in the match the away side took the lead thanks to scrum half Blacker who went over for the away side’s third try of the game and after Costelow added the extras the Scarlets led 22-17 after 35 minutes.
Scarlets thought they scored their fourth try just before half time with captain Elias making a brilliant break, but the TMO brought it back for a forward pass.
Dragons started the second half as they begun the first, on top, and a fantastic break and spin move from Holmes put them on the front foot but Basham’s offload to Williams didn’t quite go to hand.
The home side were awarded a penalty in the middle of the park and Davies made no mistake to bring Dragons within two.
Dragons regained the lead with a brilliant try from Dyer. Replacement full back Evan Lloyd put a lovely kick through for the wing to collect and after drawing the man to Jack Dixon the centre give it back for Dyer to finish it off. Davies added the extras and the home side lead 27-22 after 50 minutes.
Dean Ryan's men almost had another score with captain Williams flying down the wing after picking up the loose ball but a brilliant cover from McNicholl meant he was able to prevent the try.
It wasn’t long before the Dragons did get their fifth and after a brilliant angled run from Lloyd he managed a slick offload to send Owen over. Davies added the extras to extend the lead to 12 points.
Dragons further extended their lead with a training ground lineout move allowing wing Holmes go blast under the sticks. Davies add the conversion once more.
Scarlets responded well and got their first score of the second half with Evans going over for his second of the match after some strong pressure on the Dragons line.
The visitors then applied more pressure as McNicholl raced away for an interception try to narrow the score to nine points after Costelow missed the conversion.
But Dragons put a final nail in the coffin with a brilliant driving maul seeing Wainwright bundle over for his second of the game.
And there was still time forDavies to knock over two penaltiesand take his side past 50 points for the afternoon.
04m Holmes t 5-0
06m Rees t Costelow c 5-7
16m Williams t Davies c 12-7
24m Costelow p 12-10
28m Wainwright t 17-10
30m Evans t 17-15
33m Blacker t Costelow c 17-22
41m Davies p 20-22
46m Dyer t Davies c 27-22
56m Owen t Davies c 34-22
62m Holmes t Davies c 41-22
67m Evans t 41-27
70m McNicholl t 41-32
73m Wainwright t 46-32
77m Davies p 49-32
80m Davies p 52-32
Dragons: Jordan Williams (Dixon 40), Jonah Holmes, Jared Rosser (Lloyd 42), Aneurin Owen, Rio Dyer, Sam Davies, Rhodri Williams (Babos 55); Greg Bateman (Reynolds 46), Taylor Davies (Lawrence 71), Chris Coleman (Jarvis 52), Ben Carter, Joe Maksymiw (Screech 46), Ross Moriarty, Taine Basham (Baker 63), Aaron Wainwright
Replacements: Rhys Lawrence, Josh Reynolds, Aaron Jarvis, Matthew Screech, Dan Baker, Dan Babos, Evan Lloyd, Jack Dixon
Scarlets: Johnny McNicholl; Tom Rogers, Tyler Morgan, Jonathan Davies, Steff Evans; Sam Costelow, Dane Blacker; Rob Evans, Ryan Elias (c), Alex Jeffries, Jake Ball, Morgan Jones, Blade Thomson, Iestyn Rees, Uzair Cassiem
Replacements: Dafydd Hughes, Steff Thomas, Werner Kruger, Lewis Rawlins, Carwyn Tuipulotu, Kieran Hardy, Angus O’Brien, Steff Hughes