Dragons sevens aces set the benchmark with determined display

TEAM SPIRIT: Newport Gwent Dragons displayed tenacity to finish as runners-up to Gloucester at the Premiership Rugby 7s

KEY SCORE: Cross Keys scrum-half Jonny Lewis crossed for the Dragons at the death to edge out Harlequins in the semi-final

First published in Sport by

THE REAL stuff starts on Sunday but the Newport Gwent Dragons first teamers have been shown the way by their sevens team.

The Premiership Rugby 7s, just like the upcoming pre-season friendlies, is not a genuine indicator of how things will shape up come the first weekend of September when the Guinness Pro12 gets under way.

However, certain aspects of the shortened format can be carried into 'proper' rugby and the manner in which Sam Cross' team fought for each other, never gave up and battled for second place at the Twickenham Stoop was an example for Lee Bryne's men, who will enjoy a first hit out against Bristol at Clifton RFC on Sunday (kick-off 3pm).

It was very much a player-led effort in the English capital in the absence of the Dragons' specialist sevens coach Nick Wakley, who was unavailable because of a prior commitment with the Jaffna Challengers in Sri Lanka.

Head coach Kingsley Jones was on hand to offer a few pearls of wisdom and was on the touchline in the London rain.

He saw his charges fight back in the second half to beat Newcastle 12-10 in the quarter-finals before stunning home favourites Harlequins 19-15 in the semi-finals thanks to a last-gasp try by Cross Keys scrum-half Jonny Lewis.

They found Gloucester too strong in the final, with the Cherry and Whites repelling a late charge to hold on for a 12-5 victory, but Jones was full of praise for the young Dragons.

"I was so impressed with the effort that the boys put in, especially in the semi-final against Harlequins in front of their own crowd," said the former Wales flanker, whose sons Rhys and Dorian featured prominently at the Stoop.

"Their attitude, team spirit and desire to win was evident throughout – they chased everything down and fought for those little inches.

"That work got us into the final and it was always going to be a big challenge against Gloucester, who proved to be a quality side throughout the tournament.

"In poor weather it came down to mistakes and we lost the ball a bit too much in the first half (when the Cherry and Whites built a 12-0 lead).

"It was disappointing to lose to Gloucester but there were so many good things that came out of the tournament – I am really proud that we got through to the final and represented the region and Wales so well.

"The boys will have learnt a lot from it and they will want to go one step further next time."

Gloucester were the only side to beat the Dragons in the Premiership Rugby 7s as they beat the Ospreys and Scarlets and drew with Cardiff Blues to qualify for finals day.

It was decided in June that Cardiff Blues, who were beaten by Gloucester in the last four, would represent Wales at the World Club 7s at Twickenham this weekend.

Dragons squad: Sam Cross (captain), Angus O'Brien, Dorian Jones, Owen Davies, Jonny Lewis, Luke Morgan, Matthew Pewtner, Rhys Jones, James Thomas, James Cordy-Redden, Lewis Hudd, Ollie Griffiths. (Elliot Frewen, James Benjamin and Harri Keddie featured in the Welsh leg)

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