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Last Updated: Friday, 6 January 2006, 20:52 GMT
Dragons 27-19 Connacht
Gareth Chapman crosses for the first try
Dragons (17) 27
Tries: Chapman, Owen, pen, Forster
Cons: Warlow (2)
Pen: Warlow
Connacht (16) 19
Tries: Slemen
Con: Slemen
Pens: Slemen (3), Warwick
The Dragons' scrum power saw them to a bonus-point win in their Celtic League basement battle with dogged Connacht.

A fine Gareth Chapman try opened their account, but poor kicking and sloppy mistakes helped the visitors' cause.

Fly-half David Slemen got a try and kicked 11 points to worry the Dragons, but a Mike Owen pushover and a penalty try from a scrum kept them ahead.

When Connacht prop Dan McFarland was sin binned from another scrum, Jason Forster got the Dragons' decisive try.

It was Conacht who had opened the scoring at Newport's Rodney Parade with a Slemen penalty, before the feared Dragons backs struck from line-out ball on half-way.

An excellent Craig Warlow pass found Haldane Luscombe on an outside break, and the in-form centre fed it wide for wing Chapman to step inside Matt Mostyn for the opening try.

We made it difficult for ourselves by giving away cheap points
Dragons captain Jason Forster

The home side conceded a penalty to Slemen straight from the kick off, but hit back to encamp on the Irish line.

A series of strong scrums ended with number eight Owen controlling well for a simple pushover try.

But Warlow missed his third successive kick at goal, and more slack play from the restart cost the Gwent side.

Sione Tuipulotu failed to gather a Conor McPhillips up-and-under, allowing Slemen to collect the loose ball, sell a simple dummy, and cross under the posts.

The Dragons were fortunate to be awarded a penalty under the posts when Mostyn's tackle on Luscombe was judged illegal by referee Iain Heard.

David Slemen
Slemen's 16 points kept Connacht in touch

The home side chose to scrummage, and after four re-sets were awarded a penalty try.

Once again the Welsh were asleep at the restart, and an excellent Andrew Mailei break was rewarded with Slemen's third penalty as Ben Breeze crept offside.

That left the Dragons just one point ahead, but a Warlow penalty from the first scrum after the break stretched the lead.

Connacht substitute Paul Warwick cancelled that out with a 57th-minute kick, but the Irish continued to yield scrum penalties and loose-head McFarland was sent to the sin bin.

The extra man proved crucial as the Dragons booted a kickable penalty to the corner, won the line-out, and drove over captain and man-of-the match Forster for the bonus-point try.

Warlow's conversion made the game safe and denied Connacht a bonus point in defeat.

  • Dragons captain Jason Forster:
    "We made it difficult for ourselves by giving away cheap points, we can't afford that against the best teams.

    "But we worked hard in the forwards, dominated there, and the last try was a good team effort.

    "It's now down to working on our concentration for our push up the table.

    "There's a belief in this team. We know that we've put ourselves in this position and we are the ones who have to get us out."

    Dragons: Tuipulotu; Chapman, Luscombe, Bryant, Breeze; Warlow, Cooper; Black, S Jones, R Thomas; Gough, Sidoli; Hall, Forster, Owen.
    Replacements: Griffiths for Gough (79), Ringer for Hall (61). Not Used: Brown, Robinson, Sweeney, Baber, Maddocks, Anthony.

    Connacht: Mostyn; Hearty, Mailei, Matthews, McPhillips; Slemen, Keane; McFarland, Merrigan, Clarke; Short, Gannon; Swift, Lacey, Rigney.
    Replacements: McHugh for Hearty (39), Warwick for Slemen (55), Tierney for Keane (74), Fogerty for Merrigan (40), Knoop for Clarke (40), Gallagher for Gannon (40), O'Connor for Swift (65).

    Att: 4,773

    Referee: Iain Heard (SRU).



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