Dragons get their kicks thanks to Prydie and Jones – Dragons 32 Edinburgh 12
THE GALLOWS are still standing at Rodney Parade but Newport Gwent Dragons last night ensured they remain unused.
The region earned their second win of the season thanks to a terrific kicking displays by wing Tom Prydie from the tee and Steffan Jones out of hand, the fly-half becoming the first Dragon to strike three drop goals in a game.
The Dragons put in some sterling defensive work and Wales number eight Toby Faletau showed signs that he is getting back to his best by going through a mountain of work.
By both their deeds and their words, the Dragons brought along their own noose to the RaboDirect encounter with Edinburgh – their shocking loss to Cardiff Blues followed by talk of last night being “must-win”.
Victory was “non-negotiable” said captain Lewis Evans and his side duly obliged – it was far from the perfect performance but that won’t concern them too much, the scoreboard was all that mattered.
An improvement in terms of attack is needed but the way that the Dragons closed the game out once they got their noses in front was admirable and showed growing maturity.
It was enough to ensure the hangmen stayed quiet last night but there is some way yet until the Dragons can step away from the trapdoor.
It will be same again when Ulster are the next visitors to Rodney Parade on October 26.
The Dragons have left themselves with no margin for error and had better get used to playing under pressure.
They have no credit left with their fans courtesy of a home record that read four defeats from five prior to last night so the wins need to keep coming.
Those recent woes mean that there is a lot of convincing left to do and this was the first small step towards doing that.
It was the visitors that settled swiftly, troubling the Dragons with wide and expansive rugby.
After a couple of near scrapes their pressure paid off when Tim Visser darted through midfield and floated a pass for fellow wing Tom Brown to go over in the right corner. Fly-half Harry Leonard converted but to the Dragons’ credit they settled with the boots of Dan Evans and Prydie working them into the game.
The former pinned the visitors back in their half with his left peg while the latter punished their indiscretions to boot the Dragons into a 9-7 lead with three penalties in the opening half hour.
The hosts may have led but it was Edinburgh that were looking the more dangerous with ball in hand, the large frames of number eight Netani Talei and inside centre Ben Atiga consistently getting over the gain line.
They didn’t, however, have a kicker in the form that Prydie was displaying with a pair of Leonard penalty misses preventing the visitors from earning the lead that they deserved.
And they must have been rubbing their eyes in disbelief as they headed to the changing rooms at half-time when the scoreboard above the entrance read 17-7.
First Prydie knocked over his fourth penalty, with yellow cards shown either side of his three-pointer to the Dragons’ Steve Jones (breakdown offence) and Edinburgh’s Sean Cox (taking out lock Ian Nimmo at the restart).
And then with the last play of the half came the most unlikely of scores for Phil Price.
The prop was only throwing the ball into the lineout in the absence of Jones but he displayed a turn of speed that the veteran hooker could only dream of to go over in the corner after a ‘one-two’ with Nimmo at the front.
Price has enjoyed a fine start to the season with an admirable work rate and not only can he be proud of the five points next to his name but he can boast of a 100 per cent lineout record whenever his hookers pipe up.
It was a dream end to the half and the Dragons enjoyed a marvellous start to the second, Prydie knocking over a penalty after a stupid trip by Scotland openside Ross Rennie that saw him shown yellow and his side temporarily reduced to 13 men.
A smart Steffan Jones drop goal made it 23-7 with half an hour left and suddenly the Dragons, through playing smart rugby, were on the brink of four much-needed points.
The magnificent Visser sent the nerves jangling when he was first to Leonard’s grubber kick through only for Steffan Jones to immediately strike back with a second neat drop goal. And when Prydie struck his sixth penalty on 65 minutes it was game over with the Dragons leading 29-12 before Steffan Jones added some gloss with his third drop goal.
Four points was the minimum requirement going in to the game – job done, and convincingly.