Dragons have previously faced Bristol twice in the European Challenge Cup as the teams met during the 2006/07 season. Ahead of Friday’s big showdown, we look back at those two games and finish the look back with the clash at Rodney Parade as Dragons hit back…
Dragons 17 Bristol 11 – January 12, 2007
Dragons took over top spot in Pool One of the European Challenge Cup thanks to a moment of inspiration form American centre Paul Emerick.
The USA Eagles centre exploded through a gap in the midfield to cross for a crucial try at the posts which allowed the home side to regain the lead ten minutes after Lee Robinson’s try out of nothing had threatened to send Bristol through to the quarter-finals.
If there was little to choose between the two sides in their opening game at the Memorial Ground, which Bristol won 11-7, the return leg was equally tense and tight in dreadful conditions at Rodney Parade.
Playing into a driving wind and rain, Dragons drew first blood when Bristol full back Craig Morgan made a hash of Ceri Sweeney’s cross kick and Gareth Wyatt nipped in the steal the ball and the try.
Sweeney added the conversion and sandwiched a penalty between two from opposite number Dave Hill to give the home side a 10-6 interval lead.
With the wind at their backs in the second half, Dragons should have been in a strong position to build on the lead.
However, Robinson’s try three minutes after the break, when he latched onto a clever cross field kick by Hill, gave the English Premiership leaders a one-point lead and temporary command of the Pool.
But then came Emerick’s stunning intervention and another Sweeney conversion ensured Dragons were back in front on the scoreboard and by two tries in the Pool table.
"It was another gutsy performance,” said Dragons boss Paul Turner said after the game.
"We've beaten the leaders of the English Premiership. We've always said that Bristol on paper are well beatable, but not many sides beat them.
"We've done that and you can't take that away from this set of boys."
Dragons: K Morgan (capt); G Wyatt, P Emerick, A Smith, A Brew; C Sweeney, A Walker (G Baber 65); A Black, K Crawford (R Wilkes 40), L Harrison, I Gough, P Sidoli, A Hall (Owen 61), J Ringer, C Charvis.
Replacements: R Wilkes, D Maddocks, M Owen, N Fitsemanu, G Baber, M Hercus, A Thomas.
Bristol: C Morgan; L Robinson, S Cox, J Taumalolo (W Pozzebon 40), D Lemi; D Hill, B O'Riordan; D Hilton, M Regan, D Crompton, R Winters (M Sambucetti 65), G Llewellyn, A To'oala (C Short 78), M Salter (capt), D Ward-Smith.
Replacements: S Nelson, W Thompson, M Sambucetti, C Short, G Nicholls, J Strange, W Pozzebon
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
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We've beaten the leaders of the English Premiership. We've always said that Bristol on paper are well beatable, but not many sides beat them...