Davies drops in for late glory
PRO14 REPORT: A late Sam Davies drop-goal kicked Dragons to a memorable 22-20 derby day victory over Scarlets at a rain-soaked Rodney Parade.
The Dragons flyhalf demonstrated all his class in coolly slotting between the posts in the final play of the match, adding to his 14 earlier points to make it a magical evening in Newport for Dean Ryan’s men.
Scarlets had opened the scoring through a Gareth Davies effort before doubling their try tally just moments later through Ken Owens, before Rhodri Williams responded for the hosts to leave the score at 17-16 at the break.
And after a scrappy second period it was Davies who had the last laugh, dropping for glory at the eleventh hour to indelibly write his name into Dragons folklore.
The game had a real derby day field to it under the Rodney Parade lights, with Leigh Halfpenny and Davies exchanging early penalties as the rain lashed down in South Wales.
And a further Davies penalty at the end of the opening quarter opened up a six-point lead for the hosts, who were nevertheless forced to adopt a backs-to-the-wall approach throughout the first half as Scarlets raided forward.
The visitors’ pressure paid on 25 minutes, capitalising on a Matthew Screech yellow card as No.9 Davies jinked over the line under the posts following a scrum.
And just five minutes later the away side had their second, bundling over through Wales international Owens to extend their early advantage and make Screech pay further for his indiscipline.
But the hosts hit back at the end of a hectic first half, as Williams emulated the antics of his opposite number to dot down from close range to tee up a tense second period.
A cagey second half ensued as the rain continued to pepper the Rodney Parade pitch, with the greasy conditions frequently hindering both teams’ attempts to construct any flowing passing rugby.
And the game soon developed into one where kicking games became paramount, with both sides striving for territory heading into the closing stages.
Davies and Halfpenny both kicked late penalties to take the score to 20-19, before the Dragons No.10 popped up in the closing stages to clinch a remarkable victory.
Man of the match
Look no further than that man Davies for the man of the match award, slotting 17 points and playing an crucial role on what was a stunning night for Dragons.
The fly-half kept the home side at arm’s length for much of the contest with his kicking from the tee, delivering his drop-goal heroics at the perfect moment to break Scarlets hearts at the death.
Play of the day
The most memorable moment of a largely scrappy contest – inhibited by the weather – was without doubt Davies’ brilliant last-minute contribution, showing a cool head to give his side a thrilling derby day triumph.
The flyhalf put himself in the pocket to receive the ball in a promising position, taking his time before dropping over with his left foot to complete a historic night in South Wales.
🚨 SAM DAVIES WINS IT WITH A DROP GOAL AT THE DEATH!
— Premier Sports 📺 (@PremierSportsTV) December 21, 2019
For the Dragons:
Pens: Davies 4
For the Scarlets:
Tries: Davies, Owens
Cons: Halfpenny 2
Pens: Halfpenny 2
Yellow cards: Matthew Screech (Dragons, 22), Wyn Jones (Scarlets, 35)
Dragons: 15 Will Talbot-Davies, 14 Owen Jenkins, 13 Adam Warren, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Rhodri Williams (captain), 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Taine Basham, 6 Cory Hill, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Joe Davies, 2 Leon Brown, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Brok Harris.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Aaron Jarvis, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Brandon Nansen, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Jacob Botica, 23 Tyler Morgan.
Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Steff Hughes, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Josh Macleod, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens (captain), 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Phil Price, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Tevita Ratuva, 20 Blade Thomson, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Corey Baldwin.
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Mike English, Gareth John (both Wales)
TMO: Ian Davies (Wales)
Report by @PRO14Official