Thumping on the road for the Dragons
10:31pm Friday 31st January 2014 in Sport
NEWCASTLE 29 DRAGONS 0
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons suffered their third January defeat to English opposition after being overpowered by Newcastle in the LV= Cup.
The Falcons have scored just six tries in the Aviva Premiership this season but crossed the whitewash four times for a 29-0 bonus point win at Kingston Park.
And to make matters worse for the Rodney Parade region on a grim trip to the north east of England, openside flanker Nic Cudd was sent off in the second half for a tip tackle.
It was a crushing defeat to bring to an end a miserable month for the Dragons, who have suffered a derby loss to Cardiff Blues and thumpings at the hands of Bath, Northampton and Newcastle.
Both sides were looking for a morale-boosting win at Kingston Park ahead of their returns to league action.
The Falcons fielded a strong line-up to try to build some momentum for their battle to beat the drop from the Aviva Premiership with title-chasing Bath their next opposition.
The Dragons adopted a different approach with director of rugby Lyn Jones giving a number of fringe players an opportunity to press for a place in their team to face Edinburgh in the RaboDirect Pro12 next Sunday.
But their hopes won’t have been helped by defeat in the Anglo-Welsh dead rubber.
On a gluepot pitch both sides displayed surprisingly good handling in the first half but the Falcons dominated the possession and ran in four tries, three of them before the break, as the Dragons struggled to match them up front.
It was a different story after the break, the game disintegrated on the back of myriad changes from the benches and any hopes the Dragons may have had of a comeback were dashed when Cudd was sent off for a spear tackle on Adam Powell in the 56th minute.
Both sides made 14 changes to their line-ups and despite being competitive at the breakdown, the Dragons proved no match for the Falcons up front.
They were heaved off their own ball just about every time in the first half and Newcastle were able to play the game very much on the front foot.
Fly-half Phil Godman skipped through some ragged defence for the first try after just seven minutes which the Scotland cap also converted.
With the wind at their backs the Falcons were soon looking for more but they had to wait until the 20th minute for the next score.
Newcastle moved the ball wide to Sinoti Sinoti with the Dragons struggling and the winger sent in flanker Mark Wilson, who was making his 100th Falcons appearance, for a try in the corner to make it 12-0.
The big flanker was back again in the 28th minute when scrum-half Warren Fury's darting blindside break made the hole for Wilson to blast through and this time Godman's conversion from wide out was good for 19-0.
Right on half-time, the Dragons were turned over at the scrum on their own put-in again and the Falcons upped the power again at the scrum to force a penalty which Godman knocked over for 22-0 at the break.
The Dragons' first real chance arrived eight minutes into the second half when they tried three successive line-out catch and drives with Falcons hooker Matt Thomson sin-binned after the second attempt which went close to the try-line - but the Falcons pack turned the ball over and were able to clear.
Cudd then joined Thompson on the sidelines - but he was not to return as the colour of the card he was shown after a spear tackle on Powell was red.
That effectively ended any hopes the Dragons may have had. Newcastle were totally in control from that point - but the number of chances they wasted will not have pleased Falcons boss Dean Richards.
The hosts had just one solitary score to show for all their dominance, when lock Fraser McKenzie scrambled over with just two minutes left. Rory Clegg converted to complete the scoring.
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