Dragons hold off Edinburgh
PRO14 REPORT: The Dragons ended their Pro14 season in style with a narrow 24-17 victory over a depleted Edinburgh at the Principality Stadium.
They followed up last week’s hard-fought 26-17 victory over Glasgow Warriors with a clinical first-half performance which saw them score three tries before Edinburgh made a spirited comeback.
Matthew Screech scored two of Dragons’ tries and Jonah Holmes the other, with Sam Davies adding three conversions and a penalty.
Edinburgh, who had 27 players unavailable for selection, responded with tries from Mesu Kunavula, Charlie Shiel and Blair Kinghorn, with the latter adding a conversion.
Davies missed an opportunity to give Dragons a second-minute lead as his 40-metre penalty attempt sailed wide.
However, it mattered little as Dragons soon had their first try. Strong runs from Ashton Hewitt and Holmes took the hosts into the opposition 22, from where Screech peeled off a maul to score.
Within minutes, Screech had scored a second. From inside their own half, Dragons produced a flowing move which culminated in Davies making a sharp break before off-loading to send Screech over.
Edinburgh were struggling to cope with a fired-up Dragons and they lost lock Jamie Hodgson to a yellow card, with Davies kicking the resulting penalty for a 17-0 lead at the end of a one-sided first quarter.
From their first real period of pressure, the Scots come onto the scoreboard when Kunavula crashed over from close range but they then suffered an injury setback when Scotland international flyhalf Jaco van der Walt was forced to leave the field.
Dragons scored an excellent third try when good linking between backs and forwards culminated in Davies sending out a loop pass to Holmes, who raced into the corner.
A length-of-the-field movement then saw Hewitt denied by the touchline but Dragons still held a 24-5 interval lead.
Hewitt’s disallowed try seemed to take the impetus from Dragons as the third quarter was spent mostly in their half, with Edinburgh proving stubborn opponents.
The Scots earned their reward when first replacement scrumhalf Shiel quickly took a short penalty to race away and score before Kinghorn added their third try shortly afterwards.
Kinghorn converted from in front of the posts to secure a losing bonus point for his side, with Dragons ending up in fifth place in Pro14 Conference A to rule out any chance of Champions Cup rugby for next season.
Tries: Screech 2, Holmes
Cons: Davies 3
Tries: Kunavula, Shiel, Kinghorn
Dragons: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Jonah Holmes, 13 Aneurin Owen, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Harrison Keddie (captain), 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Brok Harris.
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Greg Bateman, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Ben Carter, 20 Ben Fry, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Nick Tompkins, 23 Evan Lloyd.
Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Jack Blain, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Chris Dean, 11 Eroni Sau, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Henry Pyrgos (co-captain), 8 Mesu Kunavula, 7 Luke Crosbie, 6 Magnus Bradbury (co-captain), 5 Jamie Hodgson, 4 Marshall Sykes, 3 Lee-Roy Atalifo, 2 Sam Kitchen, 1 Murray McCallum.
Replacements: 16 Patrick Harrison, 17 Shaun Gunn, 18 Angus Williams, 19 Andries Ferreira, 20 Connor Boyle, 21 Charlie Shiel, 22 Matt Currie, 23 George Taylor.
Referee: Craig Evans (Wales)
Assistant referees: Ben Whitehouse (Wales), Adam Jones (Wales)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)