Cardiff edge Dragons despite red card
URC REPORT: The Dragons failed to make the most of a fast start and a red card for Cardiff centre Rey Lee-Lo as they were beaten 31-29 by their Welsh rivals in the United Rugby Championship.
In an entertaining encounter, Dai Young’s hosts lost Lee-Lo in the second half but still came out on top, with home tries coming from Lloyd Williams, Hallam Amos and a penalty score.
The Dragons were dangerous in the first quarter but could not maintain that pressure despite scoring through Taylor Davies, Mesake Doge, Rio Dyer and Joe Maksymiw.
There was consolation for Dragons director of rugby Dean Ryan as late efforts from Dyer and Maksymiw ensured two losing bonus points, but it could have been more.
Both teams were without their Wales internationals who are preparing for the start of the November Tests and it robbed Cardiff and the Dragons of 10 and six players respectively.
The Dragons won possession back off Sam Davies’ kick-off and went straight on the attack, with hooker Taylor Davies the one to crash over. Sam Davies converted for what was a perfect Dragons start.
Jarrod Evans responded with a penalty for Cardiff, but the Dragons looked dangerous. Fullback Jordan Williams broke clear in electric fashion and it took a swinging arm from Cardiff scrumhalf Lloyd Williams to bring him down. The Cardiff man was justly yellow carded.
Jordan Williams went for the line when there was a three-man overlap outside him, but his profligacy did not matter as Dragons prop Doge went over anyway.
Sam Davies made it 14-3 as Lloyd Williams returned to the field to immediately make amends for his yellow with the first Cardiff try. The Wales cap reached for the line and just about made it.
Referee Ben Whitehouse consulted TMO Sean Brickell, who decided the score was fair and Evans added the conversion.
Evans kicked a penalty – Sam Davies missed in response – but Cardiff were being hit by injuries. Max Llewelyn, Corey Domachowski and Jason Harries were all forced off in the first half.
Harries was replaced by Dan Fish, who retired from professional rugby last week but was called upon to fill the bench here due to absences.
Amos, who will retire from rugby at the end of the season at just 27 to pursue a career in medicine, had earlier been denied but was not second time around. Lloyd Williams kicked ahead from the base of a ruck knowing he had an advantage and Amos made sure the gamble paid off.
Cardiff had perhaps been lucky to lead at the break and they were helped at the start of the second half by a Dragons try from Ben Fry being ruled out.
Whitehouse rewarded Cardiff’s forward dominance with a penalty try after a home driving maul showed no sign of being stopped.
The game looked like it might change in the 53rd minute when Whitehouse and Brickell together decided to red-card Lee-Lo for a shoulder to the head of Sam Davies, who kicked the resulting penalty.
It was disappointing then for the Dragons to immediately concede three points to Evans, give away a penalty for being offside from the restart and then watch Evans nail a monster effort from halfway.
Dyer did dot down in the corner as the Dragons made the most of their extra man and Maksymiw completed the scoring, but Ryan’s men still fell short of victory.
Man of the match: Cardiff flank Will Boyde was the official Man of the Match and got through plenty of work. So too did Cardiff lock Matthew Screech, who had a good game in the boiler room against his old side. Lloyd Williams also had an all-action encounter with a yellow card and a try, but Boyde edged it.
Tries: Williams, Amos, Penalty Try
Pens: Evans 4
Tries: Davies, Doge, Dyer, Maksymiw
Cons: Davies 3
Red card: Rey Lee-Lo (Cardiff, 53 – foul play)
Cardiff: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Jason Harries, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Max Llewellyn, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 James Ratti, 7 Will Boyde, 6 Josh Turnbull (captain), 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Matthew Screech, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Corey Domachowski.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Will Davies-King, 19 Teddy Williams, 20 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 21 Ellis Bevan, 22 Dan Fish, 23 Garyn Smith.
Dragons: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Jonah Holmes, 13 Jack Dixon, 12 Aneurin Owen, 11 Rio Dyer, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Ollie Griffiths, 7 Ben Fry, 6 Harrison Keddie (captain), 5 Joe Maksymiw, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Mesake Doge, 2 Taylor Davies, 1 Aki Seiuli.
Replacements: 16 Ellis Shipp, 17 Greg Bateman, 18 Chris Coleman, 19 Huw Taylor, 20 Dan Baker, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Josh Lewis, 23 Jared Rosser.
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Simon Rees (Wales), Ben Breakspear (Wales)
TMO: Sean Brickell (Wales)