Lions win to keep Dragons winless at Rodney Parade
MATCH REPORT: The Lions ended their inaugural United Rugby Championship campaign on a high, beating the Dragons 21-11 in Newport on Saturday.
The three tries to one victory by the visitors from South Africa also means the hapless Dragons have not won a single match at their home ground, Rodney Parade, this season.
* To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!
The Lions looked solid in the set pieces, particularly the scrums – which earned them a few penalties. They also looked threatening on the counter=-attack.
However, the visitors’ handling was primary-school amateur at times, which gifted the Dragons plenty of free possession.
In the second half, the Lions played a more dynamic game, with some powerful bursts from the forwards finally getting the momentum they required.
In contrast, the Dragons continued to struggle with their ball control, their sloppy play costing them at crucial stages.
Both teams showed their intent to keep the ball in hand and up the tempo, but lacked the accuracy in execution. It made for a very scrappy opening quarter in Newport.
Dragons produced the first score, in the 22nd minute, with wing Rio Dyer benefitting from a sloppy pass by Lions hooker Jaco Visagie.
The Lions replied with Edwill van der Merwe coming off his wing to score a classic set-piece try – taking an inside pass from flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse after a strong scrum.
Will Reed replied with two penalties in the last 10 minutes of the half, making it 11-7 to the home team at the break.
The Lions got off to the perfect start in the second half, finally taking the ball through enough phases for Ruan Venter to get the visitors’ second try.
Another series of forward charges saw prop Ruan Dreyer going over for the Lions’ third try – a 10-point (21-11) lead for the South African visitors.
Josh Lewis intercepted a Lions pass in the 68th minute, but the TMO ruled that he had lost the ball before going over the line – scratching a potential try.
It allowed the Lions to score their third away win of the season and their second in Europe – to go with their opening-round win against Zebre.
For the Dragons
Pens: Reed 2
For the Lions
Tries: Van der Merwe, Venter, Dreyer
Cons: Hendrikse 3
Dragons: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Rio Dyer, 13 Adam Warren, 12 Josh Lewis, 11 Jared Rosser, 10 Will Reed, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Ollie Griffiths (captain), 7 Taine Basham, 6 Ben Fry, 5 Huw Taylor, 4 Joe Maksymiw, 3 Mesake Doge, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Aki Seiuli.
Replacements: 16 Taylor Davies, 17 Lloyd Fairbrother, 18 Chris Coleman, 19 Max Williams, 20 Lennon Greggains, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Ioan Davies.
Lions: 15 Quan Horn, 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Henco van Wyk, 12 Matt More, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Jordan Hendrikse, 9 Morne van den Berg, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Sibusiso Sangweni, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel (captain), 4 Ruan Venter, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Jean-Pierre Smith.
Replacements: 16 Pieter Botha, 17 Sithembiso Sithole, 18 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 19 Ruben Schoeman, 20 Jarod Cairns, 21 Andre Warner, 22 Manuel Rass, 23 Tiaan Swanepoel.
Referee: Joy Neville (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Dewi Phillips (Wales), John Darcy (Wales)
TMO: Ian Davies (Wales)