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Dragons start the move away from basement

MATCH REPORT: Dragons moved off the bottom of the United Rugby Championship table with a comfortable 20-13 win over fellow strugglers Zebre at Rodney Parade.

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The Welsh region began slowly but two breakaway tries in quick succession gave them increased confidence to dominate the game.

Aneurin Owen, Jared Rosser and Elliot Dee scored tries for the Dragons with Cai Evans adding a penalty and a conversion.

Muhamed Hasa scored a try for Zebre with Tiff Eden kicking two penalties and a conversion.

A drop-out straight into touch from former Bristol flyhalf Eden gave Dragons their first attacking platform but it came to nothing as the hosts bungled a pre-planned three-quarter move.

An earlier half-break from Eden was the only feature of note in an error-ridden and scoreless first 15 minutes with Zebre having the best chance for points but they opted not to take a kickable penalty from only 20 metres out.

However, after 17 minutes the game burst into life when Owen intercepted to run 70 metres for the opening score.

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Six minutes later, Dragons scored a second, which again brought the crowd to its’ feet. From a position close to the Italian 22, the home side counter-rucked strongly for Rosser to seize the ball and sprint away from two coverers for a superb individual try.

Evans missed his second conversion before Eden put Zebre on the scoreboard with two penalties in quick succession.

With the last move of the half, Dragons extended the lead when Rhodri Williams darted deep into the opposition 22 where Gonzalo Garcia was yellow-carded for off-side with Evans kicking the resulting penalty for a 13-6 interval lead.

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Three minutes after the restart, Dragons scored a crucial third try when Dee finished off a line-out drive with Evans knocking over the touchline conversion.

Garcia returned from the sin-bin but the game was a non-event for the next half-hour until Hasa forced his way over close range for a late consolation try.

Player of the Match

Dragons showed more composure than in recent performances and this was largely due to outside half Will Reed whose tactical kicking and measured play guided his side to a much-needed win.

Play of the Match

Zebre made the better start but were hit by two breakaway tries in quick succession. Aneurin Owen’s 70-metre interception score was impressive but this was soon topped by Jarrod Rosser’s individual effort with the wing seizing his chance to secure possession before racing away on another 70-metre run to the line.

The scorers

For the Dragons
Tries: Owen, Rosser, Dee
Con: Evans
Pen: Evans

For Zebra
Try: Hasa
Con: Eden
Pens: Eden 2

Yelow card: Gonzalo Garcia (Zebre, 39)

Teams

Dragons: 15 Cai Evans, 14 Rio Dyer, 13 Steff Hughes (captain), 12 Aneurin Owen, 11 Jared Rosser, 10 Will Reed, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Taine Basham, 6 Sean Lonsdale, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Ben Carter, 3 Luke Yendle, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Rhodri Jones.
Replacements: 16 James Benjamin, 17 Rodrigo Martinez, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 George Nott, 20 Dan Lydiate, 21 Harri Keddie, 22 Dane Blacker, 23 Joe Westwood.

Zebre: 15 Lorenzo Pani, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Franco Smith Jr, 12 Fetuli Paea, 11 Simone Gesi, 10 Tiff Eden, 9 Gonzalo Garcia, 8 Giovanni Licata (captain), 7 Iacopo Bianchi, 6 Davide Ruggeri, 5 Andrea Zambonin, 4 Leonard Krumov, 3 Juan Pitinari, 2 Giampietro Ribaldi, 1 Danilo Fischetti.
Replacements: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Muhamed Hasa, 18 Ion Neculai, 19 David Sisi, 20 Josh Kaifa, 21 Alessandro Fusco, 22 Jacopo Trulla, 23 Guido Volpi.

Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Adam Jones (Wales) and Carwyn Williams (Wales )
TMO: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland)

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