8:06pm Saturday 12th April 2014
By Chris Kirwan
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons’ nightmare 2014 continues after they were given a 45-27 hammering by Treviso in the RaboDirect Pro12.
The Dragons were outclassed at the Stadio Monigo by the 11th-placed Italians, who crossed for five tries to bag their first five-point haul of the season.
Lyn Jones’ side had a sniff of their own extra in the closing stages thanks to scores by centre Ross Wardle and locks Matthew Screech and Cory Hill but they failed to force their over for a consolation, making it a pointless trip to Italy.
It’s now five games without a win for the Dragons and four of those have been against teams in the bottom half of the table.
They have seen the resurgent Cardiff Blues climb above them and things don’t get any easier – they face the playoff-chasing Ospreys at the Millennium Stadium on Easter Sunday before heading to the Scarlets and finishing with a home Treviso encounter.
After eyeing a top-half finish for much of the season the Dragons could well head into that Rodney Parade finale looking to avoid the ignominy of a second successive 11th-place finish.
The Dragons trailed 19-6 at the break and were the architects of their own downfall.
They would have been pretty content with their efforts in an extremely scrappy first quarter that saw them enjoying a 6-3 lead thanks to a pair of penalties by fly-half Jason Tovey.
Almost straight after the second of those Treviso number eight Robert Barbieri charged down full-back Dan Evans’ clearance kick and provided wing Ludovico Nitoglia with the simplest of scores.
Fly-half Mat Berquist converted and then put the boot into the Dragons with three easily avoidable penalties that stemmed from their own mistakes – offside from a kick, a scrum offence after the following restart failed to go 10 metres and another after a botched lineout close to their own line.
It was the same old story in Italy for the Dragons, who just a fortnight ago had seen Zebre number 10 Luciano Orquera kick a personal haul of 17 points in a 25-25 draw.
It was going to take a minor miracle for the region to fight back from 19-6 to scavenge a share of the spoils.
And mission improbable swiftly became mission impossible when Italy full-back Luke McLean gliding over untouched just four minutes after the restart.
Shock horror, a TMO decision then went with the home side in Italy when full-back Evans was deemed to have grounded the ball just shy of the line.
If the Dragons were frustrated by that decision then their mood wasn’t helped when Italy centre Michele Campagnaro, man of the match against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in the Six Nations, exposed some fragile defence to score over down the right.
The visitors finally crossed the whitewash approaching the hour when lock Matthew Screech was at the bottom of an impressive driving lineout but lack of a Dragons celebration told the story.
However, there were plenty of smiles on Treviso faces when Blues-bound replacement back row forward Manoa Vosawai powered over to bag their bonus point on the hour.
Ross Wardle reduced the deficit to 38-20 when he was on fellow centre Jack Dixon’s shoulder to go under the sticks only for prop Matteo Muccignat to barge over for the hosts’ fifth.
The madcap scoring continued when Dragons lock Cory Hill darted over from close range and suddenly the visitors were chasing a first four-try bonus of the season.
Alas, it failed to come meaning the Dragons have taken seven points out of a possible 40 since the turn of the year.
Treviso scorers: tries – L Nitoglia, L McLean, M Campagnaro, M Vosawai, M Muccignat; conversions – M Berquist (4); penalties – M Berquist (4)
Dragons scorers: tries – M Screech, R Wardle, C Hill; conversions – J Tovey (3); penalties – J Tovey (2)
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
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