THIS weekend the Dragons were meant to be protecting their 100 per cent record in European Challenge Cup quarter-finals with a mouth-watering clash with Bristol.

The last-eight tie at Ashton Gate has been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak, denying the Rodney Parade region the chance to claim another English scalp.

Four years ago they headed to holders Gloucester in the quarters as underdogs but they upset the odds at Kingsholm, leaving the travelling supporters to sing loudly on ‘The Shed’ after a 23-21 win.

It was one of the region’s finest days…

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QUALIFICATION

The Dragons had made it to the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup twice before, beating Brive in 2007 and Cardiff Blues the season before heading to Kingsholm.

Lyn Jones’ men qualified from a tough pool that had pitted them against Sale, Castres and Pau.

They started with a bang by hammering the Sharks and were edged out by Castres in France.

Pau were beating in Newport and then doubled thanks to a tremendous performance at the Stade de Hameau.

Qualification was in the bag thanks to a 31-18 success against Castres at Rodney Parade, although top spot and a home quarter was lost when Sale crushed the Dragons 38-5 in Salford.

The Dragons made a solid start to the Guinness PRO12 but were in horrendous form heading to the West Country.

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MISSING COACH

Things looked good when Leinster were beaten at Rodney Parade in January but the Dragons then lost seven straight games to Ulster, Connacht, Benetton, Glasgow, Munster, Edinburgh and the Ospreys.

A section of supporters displayed their frustration by booing director of rugby Lyn Jones and Kingsley Jones when they were shown on the big screen during the defeat to the Ospreys, when the region had to settle for a sixth losing bonus in the nightmare streak.

The pressure was on Lyn Jones – and the former Ospreys and London Welsh supremo was absent at Kingsholm, with Kingsley calling the shots.

The Dragons put it down to illness… but Lyn was never to return. His departure was confirmed later that month.

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TEAM NEWS

The Dragons were without captain and hooker Rhys Thomas and wing Ashton Hewitt, who pulled out of the loss to the Ospreys in the warm-up with knee and back problems respectively.

Lock Cory Hill, who would be capped for the first time later in the year, was also absent with Nick Crosswell the sole change to the team edged out by the men from the Liberty Stadium.

The Cherry and Whites featured Wales internationals James Hook and Richard Hibbard with former Scarlets forward Ben Morgan at number eight.

Gloucester: T Marshall, R Cook, H Trinder, M Atkinson, S McColl, J Hook, G Laidlaw (captain), P McAllister, R Hibbard, J Afoa, T Savage, M Galarza, S Kalamafoni, M Kvesic, B Morgan. Replacements: D Dawidiuk, Y Thomas, P Doran-Jones, E Stooke, G Evans, C Braley, O Thorley, J Rowan.

Dragons: C Meyer, A Hughes, T Morgan, A Warren, H Amos, D Jones, S Pretorius, P Price, E Dee, B Harris, R Landman, N Crosswell, L Evans (captain), N Cudd, T Faletau. Replacements: R Buckley, B Stankovich, S Knight, M Screech, E Jackson, C Davies, A O’Brien, GR Jones.

Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)

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DRAGONS UNDER PRESSURE

Conditions were perfect for the 12.45pm kick-off but the Dragons made a nightmare start.

Dorian Jones put the ball straight out from the kick-off but opened the scoring from the tee.

Gloucester bossed the opening exchanges but opted against going for goal in favour of trying to cross the try line.

That approach eventually paid off when powerhouse number eight Morgan went over from Matt Kvesic’s offload.

Jones and Greig Laidlaw exchanged penalties and Gloucester led 8-6 after the first quarter.

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YELLOW PERIL

The Dragons were reduced to 14 men when scrum-half Sarel Pretorius was yellow-carded for a late tackle.

Laidlaw extended the Gloucester lead but the visitors, with wing Adam Hughes a makeshift 9, had their best spell of the game.

Jones missed a long-range penalty and slammed a simple effort against the post before it was third time lucky for the fly-half.

The Dragons kicked for the corner rather than the posts but the decision back-fired – the driving lineout was to become the main theme of the afternoon – before finishing the half on top.

Laidlaw was sin-binned for hands in the ruck and Jones kicked a penalty for a 12-11 lead at the break.

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DRAGONS GET THEIR KICKS

The Gloucester natives were restless – this was not how the quarter-final was meant to be going.

Jones kicked another penalty and then full-back Carl Meyer boomed over a massive three-pointer from inside his own half to make it 18-11 to the Dragons after 55 minutes.

The Rodney Parade region were playing it perfectly against a Cherry and Whites team who had expected to bulldoze their way to victory.

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A CRUEL BOUNCE

The Dragons were in front and dreaming of a semi-final in Montpellier but it was level-pegging after 64 minutes.

Gloucester had penalty advantage and kept on playing through fly-half Hook, who put a grubber kick through in the 22.

The high bounce of the ball did for Pretorius, who couldn’t gather and instead it was grasped by wing Steve McColl, who went under the posts to allow Laidlaw to gather.

After Jones missed with a drop goal, the Scotland scrum-half then edged the hosts in front from the tee after 71 minutes.

It looked like it would be the Gloucester fans enjoying a jaunt to France for the semis.

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A BRAVE CALL

The score was 21-18 and the Dragons were awarded a penalty by French referee Pascal Gauzere.

There were just minutes remaining but captain Lewis Evans went for the corner. Another penalty, same call.

A successful penalty would level the scores a lead to extra time, 10 minutes each way but the Dragons wanted the win.

Hooker Elliot Dee hit replacement lock Matthew Screech at the lineout, backs joined a 12-man drive and then Charlie Davies peeled off to crash over.

Jones couldn’t convert from out wide but the Dragons had the lead with just over two minutes to go…

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DISCIPLINED DEFENCE

With the score at 23-21, the visitors had no margin for error as Gloucester attempted to snatch victory at the death.

The Cherry and Whites, with Hook to the fore, spread the ball manically, trying to work their way to within striking distance.

McColl burst down the right wing to just outside the 22 but Wales centre Tyler Morgan positioned himself over the ball.

With men in blue appealing, Mr Gauzere finally blew for holding on. Meyer kicked the ball out – the Dragons had knocked out the holders on their own patch.

Taulupe Faletau, in his final season as a Dragon, was named as man of the match after a supreme display, flankers Lewis Evans and Nic Cudd backed him up and hooker Elliot Dee produced a magnificent performance to comprehensively outplay former Wales and Lions front-rower Richard Hibbard.

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REACTION

Man of the match Taulupe Faletau: "It's an amazing feeling. The boys put a heck of a shift in and were rewarded with the result.

"It's up there for the top game I've been involved with for the Dragons. There was relief because we hadn't won for a while so to get the win away from home in a quarter-final, you've got to enjoy these moments."

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Coach Kingsley Jones: “The decision to go for the corner late on was a big one by the captain. If it comes off you’re right, if we come away with nothing then we’re all asking questions.

“My initial thought was to kick the penalty but you have credit the players for backing themselves and getting the try.

“It’s a huge win for the region. There’s a bit of relief as well after so many defeats but we’re really pleased.

“It’s a huge achievement for the club to reach the semi-finals of Europe for a second year in a row. We will celebrate and cherish this win before we look forward to a huge occasion in France against Montpellier.”

Captain Lewis Evans: "We've enjoyed derby wins over the years but winning away in Kingsholm in a quarter-final is certainly right up there.

"Today was something fantastic for the team, but the fans deserved it."

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THE SEMI-FINAL

The Dragons earned a shot at Montpellier but the French side, with a hefty South African contingent, proved to be too powerful.

The region were downed 22-12 but put up a spirited fight at the Altrad Stadium coming back from 22-0 down. Montpellier went on to beat Harlequins in the final.