Dragons smash Zebre
PRO14 REPORT: Owen Jenkins scored two tries as Dragons ended a four-and-a half-year wait for an away win in the Pro14 with a 52-28 bonus-point victory at 14-man Zebre.
Charlie Walker – signed from Harlequins in the summer – was sent off on his Zebre debut for two yellow card offences and the away side took full advantage to secure their first win under director of rugby Dean Ryan.
Rhodri Williams, Jenkins (2), Jordan Williams, Taine Basham and Harrison Keddie all crossed, while they also benefited from a penalty try.
For a side yet to win in 2019, Zebre were full of confidence from the get-go, with speed to the breakdown and a zip to their passing.
And that fearless approach paid dividends on the scoreboard, with Jacopo Bianchi crossing after just seven minutes before his fellow back row Giovanni Licata followed shortly later.
Michelangelo Biondelli scored with both conversions to put them 14-0 to the good but the Dragons immediately hit back courtesy of a penalty try.
Jenkins was found by Jack Dixon’s floated pass on the left wing but he was tackled in the air just two metres out by Walker, leaving the referee with a simple choice.
Walker was also sent to the sin-bin and the Dragons took advantage, with scrum-half Rhodri Williams burrowing over from a few metres out. Sam Davies kicked both conversions to level the score.
The Welsh side controlled territory and possession for the rest of the half and thought they took the lead when openside flanker Basham spotted a gap and burst through from ten metres out.
However, referee Sean Gallagher brought play back for an infringement and Zebre took advantage of their stroke of fortune by going up the other end with the last play of the half and scoring through scrum-half Joseph Renton.
Zebre’s joy was short-lived though, with Walker sent off just 31 seconds after the re-start for a second yellow-card offence, and Dragons took full advantage, with Jenkins intercepting a loose pass and powering through unopposed to score.
With momentum now with them, Dragons upped the tempo and struck again five minutes later through Jordan Williams’ brilliant score.
Sam Davies nudged them further ahead with a penalty, before Jenkins grabbed his second with a simple touchdown in the corner and Basham and Keddie added further scores.
Tries: Bianchi, Licata, Renton, Penalty Try.
Cons: Biondelli 3
Tries: Williams, Jenkins 2, Williams, Basham, Keddie, Penalty Try
Cons: Davies 6
Zebre: Massimo Cioffi, Charlie Walker, James Elliott, Enrico Lucchin, Pierre Brun, Michelangelo Biondelli, Joshua Renton; Danilo Fischetti, Marco Manfredi, Alexandru Tarus, Mick Kearney, George Biagi (captain), Iacopo Bianchi, Johan Meyer, Giovanni Licata.
Replacements: Massimo Ceciliani, Daniele Rimpelli, Giosué Zilocch, Samuele Ortis, Apisai Tauyavuca, Nicolò Casilio, Leonardo Mantelli, Federico Mori.
Dragons: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Will Talbot-Davies, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Owen Jenkins, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Rhodri Williams (captain), 8 Harrison Keddie, 7 Taine Basham, 6 Lewis Evans, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Leon Brown, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Ryan Bevington.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Lawrence, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Max Williams, 20 Huw Taylor, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Jacob Botica, 23 Adam Warren.
Referee: Sean Gallagher (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Andrea Piardi (Italy), Jonny Erskine (Ireland)
TMO: Leo Colgan (Ireland)