Newport Dragons 18-14 Cardiff Blues
The Dragons narrowly beat the Blues in the south east Wales derby, after a game full of silly mistakes and wasted opportunities.
Overall it was a poor performance by both teams, which came down to a slogging match between the kickers.
The game was a sloppy affair with neither side able to take control of the run of play. Both teams made recurrent mistakes throughout the match, with one mishandling being cancelled out by a careless knock on.
Dan Parks opened the scoring with a penalty at four minutes. This was to be the last kick he would make for the next two-thirds of the game.
A minute later, the ball was hoofed down by the Dragons’ outside half, Lewis Robling, and the Blues were kept under pressure by a fiery Dragons defence. Blues open side flanker, Mike Paterson mislaid a pass back to Tom James, which was pounced on by Jevon Groves who went over for the try. The conversion was successfully kicked by Robling, who added a penalty at 15 minutes after Martyn Williams entered a ruck in from the side.
In a turn of events, Blues scrum-half Richie Rees ripped the ball from Anitelea Tuiliagi and managed to slip it out to Tom James who had an easy run in from 40 yards out. Parks was unable to convert, in a continuation of his poor kicking form, which left the score at 10-8 to Dragons.
After 24 minutes, both sides had produced four handling errors each and the Dragons were un-able to cope with the power of the Blues pack in the scrum, which kept collapsing. At one point, referee Leighton Hodges had to issue a warning to the Dragons front row and awarded the Blues a penalty which Parks subsequently missed.
The first half ended with the Blues dominating possession but the Dragons were vigilant in playing the game in the Blues half, gaining the overall territory.
The Blues made a poor start to the second-half after knocking the ball on straight from kick off and went on to concede a penalty kicked by Robling.
This was immediately answered with a penalty by Parks, which was followed by an impressive break of play by the Blues after debutante Harry Robinson caught a chip by Parks but was tackled in an offside position by Aled Brew. Parks frustratingly missed a close range effort at goal, which left the Blues trailing by two points at 13-11.
Ben Blair came on for Chris Czekaj to instil a bit of kicking discipline lacking from Parks’ game and managed to put in an intelligent grubba which resulted in a fight for the ball on the try line between Tom James and Dragons scrum half Wayne Evans. The video referee ruled in Evans’ favour and signalled for a 22-metre drop out.
The Dragons were later made to suffer for their ill discipline after the Blues were awarded a penalty for Wayne Evans’ off the ball tackle on Richie Rees. Blair was given kicking duties and placed the ball straight down the middle of the posts at 37m out, which put the Blues back in the lead by a point at 14-13.
But the Dragons breathed a sigh of relief when Tonderai Chavhanga, who came on for Ashely Smith, scored a creative solo try after a kick and chase and beat Richie Rees in a foot race.
Replacement outside-half Steffan Jones was un-able to add the conversion, but the Dragons had stolen a clumsy calamity of a game at the final death recording a 18-14 victory.
Scorers for Gwent Dragons: Tries: Groves, Chavhanga Cons: Robling 1 Pens: Robling 2
Cardiff: Tries James Cons: Pens: Parks 2, Blair 1
Gwent Dragons: M Thomas; W Harries, A Tuilagi, A Smith (T Chavhanga 53), A Brew, L Robling (S Jones 55), W Evans; N Williams (P Price 61), S Jones (S Parry 33), N Buck (D Way 61), J Groves, R Sidoli, L Evans, D Waters, T Brown.
Cardiff Blues: C Czekaj (B Blair 61); H Robinson, G Evans, D Hewitt (C Sweeney 49), T James, D Parks, R Rees; S Hobbs (J Yapp 53), T. Rhys Thomas (R Tyrrell 53), S Andrews, M Cook, C Hill (M Molitika 77), M Paterson, M Williams (J Navidi 55), X Rush.
Referee: Leighton Hodges (WRU)
Man of the Match: Darren Waters