NEWPORT Gwent Dragons fear that Steve Jones may be out for the season after rupturing his left bicep in yesterday’s loss to Treviso – leaving them down to two senior hookers.
The region are staying out in Italy for Saturday’s Amlin Challenge Cup tie against Rugby Mogliano but the 35-year-old flew back to Wales yesterday after suffering the injury in the second half at the Stadio Monigo.
Jones, who had only just come off the bench, will go for scans but it is an injury likely to sideline the veteran for three months at the very least.
That would leave the Dragons down to Hugh Gustafson and Sam Parry as their frontline hookers with Wales Under-20s prospect Elliott Dee – who is yet to make a senior start – backing them up.
Jones’ injury made it a frustrating afternoon in Treviso with the Dragons going down 32-13 and playing the last quarter with 14 men following a red card for wing Will Harries after being shown two yellows.
Treviso, who included 11 players that had represented Italy against Australia seven days earlier, crossed for five tries to add the Dragons to the scalps of the Ospreys and Scarlets.
Head coach Darren Edwards admitted that the hosts’ power game told in the end.
“It was a tough battle but the attitude of the boys was terrific,” he said. “We went toe to toe with a strong side and it was a really physical game with plenty of boys needing stitches on Saturday night.
“Treviso are a strong unit now – no side enjoys coming here – and in the end their power game created pressure, which led to our mistakes.”
The Italians led 20-6 at the break thanks to tries by scrum-half Edoardo Gori from a quick tap, centre Christian Loamanu following a chargedown of fly-half Dan Evans’ kick and wing Luke McLean, with fly-half Alberto di Bernardo adding a conversion and a penalty.
Full-back Tom Prydie had struck a pair of penalties for the Dragons but they had to dig deep in defence for much of the first half against their powerful hosts.
And it was pretty much game over when Loamanu went over for his second after 42 minutes for a 27-6 lead.
A drubbing looked on the cards, but instead it was the Dragons who struck back thanks to a training-ground move, Prydie going over down the left after a line break by number eight Tom Brown then adding the extras.
But the region suffered a hammer blow entering the final quarter when wing Harries, who was sin-binned at the end of the first half for a deliberate knock-on, was shown his second yellow card for side entry and therefore a red.
And hopes of leaving Treviso with a bonus point were ended when Tobias Botes went over for the hosts’ fifth try with eight minutes left.
“The boys rolled their sleeves up,” said Edwards. “Of course we came here hoping for points ahead of our next game with Cardiff Blues, but all you can ask is that the players put their bodies on the line, and they did that.
“We had to soak up plenty of pressure and the scrum showed up well but in the end the two scores either side of half-time cost us.
“We got ourselves back into it at 27-13 and another try would have had them wobbling but it wasn’t to be.
“But this is a very tough place to come and I believe plenty of good stuff came out of this.”
Treviso scorers: Tries – E Gori, C Loamanu (2), L McLean, T Botes; conversions – A di Bernardo (2); penalty – A di Bernardo.
Dragons scorers: Try – T Prydie; conversion – T Prydie; penalties – T Prydie (2).