11:07am Friday 13th December 2013
By Iwan Gabe Davies
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons forwards coach Kingsley Jones was left to rue his side’s difficult night at Bordeaux-Bègles but urges his troops to bounce back in style away at Connacht next weekend.
The region had travelled to the South of France with high hopes of keeping their Amlin Challenge Cup alive by doing the double over their Top 14 opponents.
The Dragons won the first of the back to back games with a 40-24 bonus point win at Rodney Parade last week before being overwhelmed 32-13 at Bègles’ Stade André Moga on Thursday evening.
The hosts’ powerful eight dominated the visitors with their enormous forwards using the scrum as a devastating weapon.
The men from Gwent didn’t help themselves either, losing three forwards to the sin bin – captain and lock Andrew Coombs, blindside flanker Lewis Evans and second row Rob Sidoli all receiving yellow cards – as they fought a brave but ultimately futile rearguard.
It meant their dream of reaching the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals for just the second time in their short history is all but over.
Jones admitted he and the Dragons forwards have much to improve on ahead of their RaboDirect PRO12 clash with Connacht in Galway, Pat Lam’s men the famous conquerors of French aristocrats Toulouse away in the Heineken Cup last week.
“We are very disappointed because we believed it was a game we could win, but our discipline wasn’t good and we put ourselves under pressure away from home yet again,” he said.
“The scrum is a big issue for us – there’s no hiding away from it. But we are working hard at it.
“We won’t come up against a much tougher forwards this season, in fact Bordeaux-Bègles have one of the best packs in the Top 14.
“But it is key not to give so many penalties away and make too many errors.”
On their clash in the West of Ireland next Saturday, Jones added: “Connacht will be a bit of a watershed for us. They will be buoyed by their victory in France against Toulouse last week and it may be a tough place to go but what better place to bounce back with a win.”
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