The Dragons fired back into Pool 5 contention with a bonus-point win over Perpignan at Newport's Rodney Parade.
HEINEKEN CUP POOL 5
Dragons (10) 27
Tries: Cooper, Morgan, Brew, Tuipulotu
Cons: Sweeney (2)
Perpignan (0) 14
Tries: Robertson, Edmonds
Cons: Edmonds (2)
Man-of-the-match Gareth Cooper's try and Ceri Sweeney's boot helped the Dragons to a 10-0 lead at the break.
Kevin Morgan and the superb Nathan Brew claimed tries in a dazzling seven-minute period, before Sione Tuipulotu got the bonus-point score late on.
French championship leaders Perpignan claimed tries through No 8 Scott Robertson and fly-half Manny Edmonds.
The Dragons made
a bright start and almost opened their account when Cooper sprinted clear - only
to be up-ended by Diego Giannantonio.
Cooper's half-back partner Sweeney kicked a penalty less than two minutes
later though, and the home side were on their way, having comfortably absorbed
Perpignan's initial forward effort.
The Dragons continued to dominate territory as Perpignan offered precious few
glimpses of their attacking potential, but the Welsh outfit could not convert
pressure into points.
Percy Montgomery snatched a drop-goal attempt on 27 minutes, drifting his kick
wide under no pressure from 30 metres out, and Perpignan were content to soak up
anything the Dragons could throw at them.
Perpignan launched a dangerous attack 10 minutes before the break, and it took
some frantic Dragons defending to deny centre David Marty.
The visitors still gained a penalty for their efforts, but Giannantonio missed
a straightforward chance after being handed responsibility ahead of the more
From the restart, Cooper sprinted deep into Perpignan territory - finding
flanker Jamie Ringer in support - and his return pass sent Cooper over for a
sparkling try converted by Sweeney, making it 10-0.
The Dragons needed to consolidate their advantage early in the second half,
and they struck within four minutes.
Perpignan's defence failed to shut down space just 25 metres out, and Brew
breezed his way through before sending Morgan over wide out.
Sweeney failed to convert, yet just when it looked as though the Dragons were
entering cruise control substitute hooker Steve Jones' indiscipline - a needless
illegal tackle - briefly allowed Perpignan back in.
The French side established a promising field position, and Robertson touched
down unopposed in the corner.
Edmonds' effortless touchline conversion further
narrowed the gap, prompting a severe lecture to his team from captain Michael Owen.
Owen's rallying call worked wonders, because just two minutes later Brew cut
back inside on an unstoppable angle to touch down between the posts and hand
Sweeney a simple conversion.
The all-important bonus-point score arrived with 11 minutes still remaining, as Perpignan
once again retreated in defence to effectively wave Tuipulotu through.
Brew's try came in a second-half onslaught by the Dragons
The two sides meet in the return fixture at the Stade Aime Giral next Saturday.
"We just have to believe," said a delighted Dragons coach Chris Anderson. "We've beaten them once and we have to believe we can do it again.
"We got in their faces in defence to shut them down, and that was so important to build our confidence before going over there next week.
"Our Welsh squad members had come back to the camp with a bit of a buzz and that lifted everyone here.
"Michael Owen's leadership was great and Gareth Cooper is just a quality player."
Dragons: Montgomery; Wyatt, Brew, Tuipulotu, Morgan; Sweeney, Cooper; Snow, Richards, Thomas, Gough, Sidoli, Oakley, Ringer, Owen (capt).
Replacements: S Jones, Black, Robinson, Edwards, Baber, Bryant, Warlow.
Perpignan: Giannantonio; Bomati, Marty, Hume, Luger; Edmonds, Durand; Freshwater, Van Der Heever, Mas, Gaston, Alvarez Kairelis, Le Corvec, Goutta, Robertson.
Replacements: Sempere, Debaty, Roigt, Labat, Descons, Laharrague, Manas.
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)