Maiden victory for Dragons as they see off Ospreys
MATCH REPORT: The Dragons recorded their first home win in the United Rugby Championship for more than a year after seeing off 14-man Ospreys 20-5 at Rodney Parade.
Hooker Bradley Roberts and wing Rio Dyer scored tries as the Dragons triumphed following Ospreys wing Mat Protheroe being sent off for a dangerous challenge after just 27 minutes.
Fullback Cai Evans kicked two conversions and two penalties, with Dragons moving clear after Protheroe’s early touchdown.
Dragons last tasted home league success in October 2022 when they defeated Zebre Parma and the Ospreys could have few complaints on a night when so many things went wrong for them.
The Ospreys took just four minutes to open their account and it was a superbly-executed play as scrumhalf Reuben Morgan-Williams floated a kick behind Dragons’ defence, which allowed Protheroe a simple finish.
In contrast, Dragons took time to settle and their cause was not helped when Wales international lock Ben Carter limped off just 13 minutes into the contest.
Evans opened the Dragons’ account with a penalty but Ospreys then suffered a quick fire double blow when Protheroe was sent off and skipper Justin Tipuric departed injured.
Referee Ben Whitehouse issued a straight red card following forceful head-on-head contact with Dragons flyhalf Will Reed, then Tipuric departed to be replaced by Wales skipper Jac Morgan.
A second Evans penalty edged the Dragons ahead before they carved Ospreys’ defence open through a fine try finished by Roberts.
Flank Ollie Griffiths displayed impressive vision and accuracy to free Roberts on an inside ball and he surged to the line, smashing through Ospreys wing Luke Morgan’s attempted challenge for a try that Evans converted and secured a 13-5 interval advantage.
The Ospreys temporarily went down to 13 players midway through the second half when Morgan received a yellow card after a tip-tackle on Dyer.
It further increased Ospreys’ degree of difficulty, although the Dragons entered the final quarter having not been able to increase their first-half points tally.
Dyer’s dazzling break should have led to a try but centre Aneurin Owen’s poor pass flew wide of wing Ewan Rosser.
Yet Evans’ delivery then put the Wales international clear for a clinching score 15 minutes from time and Dragons could celebrate a first victory of the URC campaign.
Man of the Match: Evans made his Wales debut during a World Cup warm-up clash against South Africa in August and he delivered another fine display in front of watching national boss Warren Gatland. Apart from kicking two penalties and two conversions, Evans – the son of former Wales captain Ieuan – played a critical creative role in Dyer’s clinching try 15 minutes from time. It was an impressively-assured performance.
Tries: Roberts, Dyer
Cons: Evans 2
Pens: Evans 2
Dragons: 15 Cai Evans, 14 Rio Dyer, 13 Sio Tomkinson, 12 Aneurin Owen, 11 Ewan Rosser, 10 Will Reed, 9 Rhodri Williams (captain), 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Ollie Griffiths, 6 Sean Lonsdale, 5 Ben Carter, 4 Matthew Screech, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Bradley Roberts, 1 Rhodri Jones.
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Chris Coleman, 19 George Nott, 20 Ryan Woodman, 21 Dane Blacker, 22 Steff Hughes, 23 Ashton Hewitt.
Ospreys: 15 Max Nagy, 14 Luke Morgan, 13 George North, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Mat Protheroe, 10 Jack Walsh, 9 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Justin Tipuric (captain), 6 James Ratti, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Rhys Davies, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Dewi Lake, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Ben Warren, 19 James Fender, 20 Jac Morgan, 21 Luke Davies, 22 Daniel Kasende, 23 Luke Scully.
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Mike English (Wales), Gwyn Morris (Wales)
TMO: Ian Davies (Wales)