DRAGONS 24 GLASGOW 23

DEFENCE: Strong defence from Glasgow keeps Ashley Smith from breaking clear

DEFENCE: Strong defence from Glasgow keeps Ashley Smith from breaking clear

First published in Sport

WHAT a difference a year makes.

In February 2013 Glasgow romped to an eight-try, 60-3 victory at Rodney Parade but in February 2014 Newport Gwent Dragons’ tenacity and spirit completed a RaboDirect Pro12 double of the title hopefuls.

It looked like the Scots would maintain their perfect league away record when they led 20-10 on the hour but a stirring Dragons fightback secured a vital victory.

Lock Cory Hill and wing Ross Wardle crossed for tries that Rhys Jones converted to set up a frantic finale that saw the hosts defend with both physicality and discipline to take the spoils.

Four hard-earned points sees them stretch away from Cardiff Blues but more importantly keeps the heat on the sixth-placed Scarlets, potentially important for European qualification.

They had to dig deep for success and last season it’s unlikely that they would have come back, so it’s a shame that an entertaining encounter was played in front of a crowd of just 3,916.

Those that did venture out on Sunday afternoon were rewarded by a determined display by a Dragons side that had won just once in six games since the turn of the year and who started the week without a tighthead.

Jason Forster and Simon Raiwalui must have checked their mobiles for missed calls when news emerged that Duncan Bell had come out of retirement to beef up the region’s pack.

It was a surprise move yet the 39-year-old former England and Bath tighthead did a sterling job on his return to the professional game after a two-year absence.

The scrum wasn’t shunted backwards like it had been in recent weeks by Bath, Northampton, Newcastle and Leinster while he got through a fair bit of work before heading off after 45 minutes for a sit down and a Ginsters.

It should be stressed that the set piece improvement was not simply down to Bell and his fellow veteran debutant Bruce Douglas.

The whole front eight put in a much better display with number eight Lewis Evans, flanker Nic Cudd and lock Andrew Coombs really putting themselves about to enable scrum-half Richie Rees to pulls the strings superbly.

But the Dragons had to do things the hard way.

Everything that Jason Tovey touched turned to gold when the sides met in Glasgow – the fly-half managing a clean sweep of a try, two conversions, two penalties and a drop goal in a 23-8 success – but he made a shocking start on home turf.

Warriors flanker Rob Harley charged down his second-minute kick and pounced on the loose ball to earn his side a 7-0 lead.

Tovey and Glasgow centre Mark Bennett traded penalties before the hosts struck with a superb try on 16 minutes that saw prop Owen Evans finishing like Alex Cuthbert.

The ball was worked to the right where Coombs conjured an offload to put wing Matthew Pewtner in full flight and he provided the assist to his loosehead, who showed gas, switched the ball from left to right so that he could fend off one defender and then carried the others over the line on his back.

The hosts then had the better of proceedings until on the stroke of half-time they gifted turnover ball to one of the most dangerous broken field runners in European rugby.

Miscommunication between lock Cory Hill and flanker Nic Cudd saw the Dragons lose possession inside the Glasgow 22 and enabled Fijian scrum-half Niko Matawalu to chip over the defence, get the benefit of the bounce to gather and then show the pace to elude Pat Leach’s desperate dive.

Finn Russell added the extras for a 17-10 lead at the break and his penalty stretched the Scots’ advantage entering the final quarter against a Dragons side struggling for territory and hindered by a pair of misses by full-back Rhys Jones, who assumed responsibility from the tee when Tovey limped off after a quarter.

Yet from 20-10 down the Dragons were 24-23 in front with 10 minutes left thanks to a quickfire brace of tries.

First lock Cory Hill, who was just about to be replaced, finished down the right after a sniping break by magnificent scrum-half Richie Rees.

And then, after another Russell penalty, replacement wing Ross Wardle stayed calm to gather a loose ball from a chargedown before going over down the left.

Rhys Jones struck a marvellous conversion and suddenly the hosts had a lead to protect and they did just that by showing defensive steel at the death.

Dragons: R Jones, M Pewtner, P Leach, A Smith (captain), W Harries (R Wardle 45-52, 58), J Tovey (D Jones 21), R Rees, O Evans (P Price 58), R Thomas, D Bell (B Douglas 45), A Coombs, C Hill, J Groves (M Screech 68), N Cudd, L Evans.

Scorers: tries – O Evans, C Hill, R Wardle; conversions – J Tovey, R Jones (2); penalty – J Tovey

Glasgow: R Jackson, L Jones, R Vernon, M Bennett (F Niua 68), B McGuigan (H Pyrgos 58), F Russell, N Matawalu (R Hughes 70), J Yanuyanutawa (G Reid 45), D Hall (F Brown 52), M Cusack (J Welsh 38), L Nakarawa (T Ryder 52), J Gray, R Harley, T Holmes, J Strauss (captain).

Scorers: tries – R Harley, N Matawalu; conversions – F Russell (2) ; penalties – M Bennett, F Russell (2)

Referee: Matteo Liperini (Italy)

Attendance: 3,916

Argus star man: Richie Rees

Comments (9)

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5:33pm Sun 23 Feb 14

grumpyandopinionated says...

Well done to the lads and not wanting to take anything away from them, but I think that we really do benefit when internationals are being played as we practically have a full complement of players. This obviously helps the team as they are more used to playing together. On the downside it doesn't say alot for the quality of our players, when at one time there would have been possibly about 7 away on international duty. Hopefully we can build on the way we have been playing this year as even the losses haven't been that big.
Well done to the lads and not wanting to take anything away from them, but I think that we really do benefit when internationals are being played as we practically have a full complement of players. This obviously helps the team as they are more used to playing together. On the downside it doesn't say alot for the quality of our players, when at one time there would have been possibly about 7 away on international duty. Hopefully we can build on the way we have been playing this year as even the losses haven't been that big. grumpyandopinionated
  • Score: 3

6:28pm Sun 23 Feb 14

Mr Bump. says...

Is that their lowest crowd for a league match?
Is that their lowest crowd for a league match? Mr Bump.
  • Score: -4

6:47pm Sun 23 Feb 14

Dragonsfan81 says...

Good win for the dragons! Keeps the pressure on the scarlets in 6! Much better from last season, just need a few more class signings and then we will be a team who can beat anyone!
Good win for the dragons! Keeps the pressure on the scarlets in 6! Much better from last season, just need a few more class signings and then we will be a team who can beat anyone! Dragonsfan81
  • Score: 7

9:19pm Sun 23 Feb 14

East Newport Dave says...

Mr Bump. wrote:
Is that their lowest crowd for a league match?
Probably not but it tends to follow my train of thought. Who is interested in watching Dragons v Glasgow?
[quote][p][bold]Mr Bump.[/bold] wrote: Is that their lowest crowd for a league match?[/p][/quote]Probably not but it tends to follow my train of thought. Who is interested in watching Dragons v Glasgow? East Newport Dave
  • Score: -13

10:52pm Sun 23 Feb 14

Euwan Usami says...

grumpyandopinionated wrote:
Well done to the lads and not wanting to take anything away from them, but I think that we really do benefit when internationals are being played as we practically have a full complement of players. This obviously helps the team as they are more used to playing together. On the downside it doesn't say alot for the quality of our players, when at one time there would have been possibly about 7 away on international duty. Hopefully we can build on the way we have been playing this year as even the losses haven't been that big.
In fairness the last thing we had was a full compliment of players. There was a 39 year old tight head who hadn't played a game for two years, the full back and outside half were courtesy of Kingsley immediate family, Toby is away with Wales and his "Stand in" Talei was out injured. It was very much a second string side versus a second string Glasgow side, which may explain the attendance. Having said that it was a great result, the scrum performed well and it was great to see them get a bit of luck after losing out so late to Leinster. Glasgow did manage to turn the Blues over too so, all in all we should be very pleased with that result.
[quote][p][bold]grumpyandopinionated[/bold] wrote: Well done to the lads and not wanting to take anything away from them, but I think that we really do benefit when internationals are being played as we practically have a full complement of players. This obviously helps the team as they are more used to playing together. On the downside it doesn't say alot for the quality of our players, when at one time there would have been possibly about 7 away on international duty. Hopefully we can build on the way we have been playing this year as even the losses haven't been that big.[/p][/quote]In fairness the last thing we had was a full compliment of players. There was a 39 year old tight head who hadn't played a game for two years, the full back and outside half were courtesy of Kingsley immediate family, Toby is away with Wales and his "Stand in" Talei was out injured. It was very much a second string side versus a second string Glasgow side, which may explain the attendance. Having said that it was a great result, the scrum performed well and it was great to see them get a bit of luck after losing out so late to Leinster. Glasgow did manage to turn the Blues over too so, all in all we should be very pleased with that result. Euwan Usami
  • Score: 20

8:53am Mon 24 Feb 14

Warbles says...

If we had lost there would have been criticism for not beating their second team!
If we had lost it would have been claimed that our squad depth was poor or Glasgow's was better put together!
We won, but are now being criticised for beating their 'second team'!
We won, but Glasgow's squad is now not so good!
We have a high proportion of under-experienced kids who are growing up quickly; please start being thankful for that, take off the blinkers and accept that, like all other teams, you play what is in front of you. If you look at Glasgow's team there was a lot of international experience there and some very good footballers.
I must admit I was getting worried mid way through the second half but they stuck at it and DESERVED it in the end.
If we had lost there would have been criticism for not beating their second team! If we had lost it would have been claimed that our squad depth was poor or Glasgow's was better put together! We won, but are now being criticised for beating their 'second team'! We won, but Glasgow's squad is now not so good! We have a high proportion of under-experienced kids who are growing up quickly; please start being thankful for that, take off the blinkers and accept that, like all other teams, you play what is in front of you. If you look at Glasgow's team there was a lot of international experience there and some very good footballers. I must admit I was getting worried mid way through the second half but they stuck at it and DESERVED it in the end. Warbles
  • Score: 17

12:06pm Mon 24 Feb 14

noddy3uk says...

very good win that we would have lost last year. Everybody is saying poor crowd due to Glasgow but what about the fact it's played on a Sunday and people have to get up for work plus recovery from a Friday night international. When will we have Saturday games again ?
very good win that we would have lost last year. Everybody is saying poor crowd due to Glasgow but what about the fact it's played on a Sunday and people have to get up for work plus recovery from a Friday night international. When will we have Saturday games again ? noddy3uk
  • Score: 8

3:12pm Mon 24 Feb 14

DPJ says...

Official RABO Direct Attendance Figures 2013/14

Against Glasgow 3,916
Average Home Crowd 6,175

Average Home Crowds for the other regions
Cardiff Blues 7,386
Scarlets 7,609
Ospreys 7,925
They have all played Glasgow at home
Official RABO Direct Attendance Figures 2013/14 Against Glasgow 3,916 Average Home Crowd 6,175 Average Home Crowds for the other regions Cardiff Blues 7,386 Scarlets 7,609 Ospreys 7,925 They have all played Glasgow at home DPJ
  • Score: -1

6:10pm Mon 24 Feb 14

East Newport Dave says...

DPJ wrote:
Official RABO Direct Attendance Figures 2013/14

Against Glasgow 3,916
Average Home Crowd 6,175

Average Home Crowds for the other regions
Cardiff Blues 7,386
Scarlets 7,609
Ospreys 7,925
They have all played Glasgow at home
I rest my case! As well as Glasgow have done in recent times, they are not a sufficiently enough attractive outfit to draw a reasonable attendance. That is the fundamental problem with the Rabo.
[quote][p][bold]DPJ[/bold] wrote: Official RABO Direct Attendance Figures 2013/14 Against Glasgow 3,916 Average Home Crowd 6,175 Average Home Crowds for the other regions Cardiff Blues 7,386 Scarlets 7,609 Ospreys 7,925 They have all played Glasgow at home[/p][/quote]I rest my case! As well as Glasgow have done in recent times, they are not a sufficiently enough attractive outfit to draw a reasonable attendance. That is the fundamental problem with the Rabo. East Newport Dave
  • Score: -3

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