Dragons 18 Leinster 22
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons ended their season with a 22-18 RaboDirect Pro12 defeat to table-topping Leinster at Rodney Parade.
It was their third home loss on the spin, though a last-gasp try by wing Will Harries did mean they climbed above Treviso to ninth.
The Dragons wanted to give the France-bound pair of Luke Charteris and Aled Brew a winning send off while Leinster’s players wanted to press their claims for selection in the absence of their big guns.
The Dubliners already had top spot in the league sewn up so were keeping their powder dry for the playoffs and their bid to retain the Heineken Cup against Ulster at Twickenham on May 19.
The first half was a frustrating affair dominated by the whistle of Italian referee Marius Mitrea, who found plenty of infringements despite both sides wanting to play expansive rugby.
The European champions led 16-6 at the break thanks to 11 points from the boot of fly-half Ian Madigan and a well-taken try by loosehead prop Jack McGrath from centre Noel Reid’s pop pass.
The Dragons – whose scrum was operating nicely – came close on a number of occasions but all they could manage was a pair of penalties by fly-half Lewis Robling.
They were much better after the break with replacement centre Pat Leach adding some oomph to their attack.
However, despite bossing territory and possession they were unable to break through a well-drilled Leinster defence.
It was a long way back when Madigan booted a fourth penalty to make it 19-6 with 65 minutes gone and game over when he knocked over his fifth on 71.
Wales flanker Dan Lydiate barged over from close range in the closing stages with Adam Hughes adding the extras to make it 22-13 before Harries piled over with the final play to at least earn a bonus point.