Dragons coach Edwards excited by the duel of the place-kickers
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons coach Darren Edwards is delighted the competition bet-ween his two young place-kickers Steffan Jones and Tom Prydie is spurring the team on.
Fly half Jones had been in great form of late, setting a regional scoring record of 27 points in this month’s 42-14 win at London Welsh.
But he left his kicking boots at home for Friday night’s hard fought but thoroughly deserved 23-14 PRO12 victory over Treviso at Rodney Parade.
The ex-Cross Keys outside half, 22, missed five attempts at goal in all as the side turned to wing Prydie, 20, when the chips were down.
Wales’ youngest international, capped just a few days after his 18th birthday, was more than equal to the task.
He slotted over some difficult shots to see the Dragons home as they battled back from 14-0 down to secure their first league win since November.
Prydie and Jones scored all the region’s points, the former ending up with 15 points from a try, two penalties and two conversions, and the latter bagging a try and one penalty.
Speaking after the Treviso victory, Edwards was pleased for Prydie but knows Jones will quickly bounce back from his disappointing night with the boot.
“We were doing some good stuff in the first half but we were sucker punched by two tries and we had a chance to build our way back into the game with a few kicks, but they didn’t seem to go over,” he said “We’ve had some great kicking displays over the last couple of weeks.
“What I’m really pleased about is that Steff has kicked well and Tom lost the kicking (duties) but he stepped up and slotted those goals over, some difficult penalties.
“These guys are learning and it’s all about character and getting back out there and doing it. I was pleased for Tom and Steff will respond to that because he is a great goal kicker too.”
Edwards also praised the performances of centres Pat Leach and Jack Dixon and thought Jones was potent in attack.
“Pat had a really good game and Jack did well partnering up with him and Steff in general played well – he looked very dangerous when he attacked.”
Treviso were without no fewer than 20 players on Friday, 13 in Italy’s 23-man squad for their Six Nations clash with Scotland on Saturday at Murrayfield, the remainder were either travelling reserves with the senior side or on Under-20s duty.
Still, former Newport favourite Franco Smith’s side looked the real deal in the first half before tiring in the second and Edwards paid tribute to the strides being made by them.
“People are starting to realise how strong Treviso actually are,” he said.
“When you see they’ve got that many players in the national team and that team is beating France and running Australia close.
“Whenever you go to Treviso, you realise how difficult a task it is – there is no doubt that they are a quality outfit.”