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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 December 2006, 16:50 GMT
Dragons 14-13 Blues
Gareth Wyatt tackles Scott Morgan
The Dragons put in a mighty defensive performance

Dragons: (11) 14
Tries: N Brew
Pens: Sweeney (3)

Blues: (5) 13
Tries: Rush, White
Pen: Blair

The Dragons' dogged defence saw them eke out a narrow win in the east Wales derby at a sodden Rodney Parade.

An excellent Nathan Brew try and nine points from Ceri Sweeney's boot gave the home side a lead they never lost.

The Blues dominated territory and possession and ground out a Xavier Rush try, but the usually reliable Ben Blair failed with the boot.

Paul Emerick's late sin-binning gave the space for a Ben White try, but Blair missed the tricky conversion.

The Dragons were wearing an unfamiliar, shocking-orange kit in support of MS Cymru, and made the brighter start in front of a packed Newport crowd.

We need to look at that second half and learn from it if we are to be a successful side

Man-of-the-match Kevin Morgan

Sweeney landed a penalty in a feisty opening that saw Scott Morgan and Luke Charteris warned for fighting.

The visitors - missing the injured Mike Phillips and Gethin Jenkins plus the suspended Martyn Williams - took a grip up front, but when they turned over ball in midfield the Dragons' dangerous backs immediately struck.

Teenage centre Ashley Smith found Gareth Cooper with a beautiful sleight of hand, and the scrum-half showed his devastating turn of pace to get outside the defence.

Cooper chipped over the top of the cover and was unlucky not to regather, but the ball fell straight to wing Brew who slid in for the try.

The Cardiff side hit back with a try from a short-range line-out, captain Rush driving straight through the middle of the resultant maul, the weak Dragons defence uncharacteristic of a dogged rear-guard action led by Colin Charvis.

Blair missed the conversion along with two first-half penalties.

Sweeney also missed two kicks for the home side, but his 37th-minute penalty ensured they went in 11-5 up at the break.

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Another Sweeney penalty seemed to have given the Gwent side a winning margin in a hard-fought second half, the Dragons defence - and captain Kevin Morgan - again outstanding.

But with 10 minutes to go Emerick was sin-binned for going over the top at a ruck, Blair slotting the penalty.

Replacement Blues scrum-half Ed Fairhurst then broke superbly from deep in his own half and found the supporting Chris Czekaj.

The ball came to Bradley Davies who found fellow substitute White for a try in the corner.

Blair narrowly missed the conversion from the sideline and the Dragons held out in the tense closing minutes, meaning the Blues could only take a losing bonus point back up the M4.


  • Man-of-the-match Kevin Morgan:
  • "We desperately needed the win and got it in a tight derby, so the boys can go home happy.

    "But we need to look at that second half and learn from it if we are to be a successful side.

    "We nearly shot ourselves in the foot by not playing in the right areas and forcing things too much."


    Dragons: Morgan, Wyatt, Emerick, Smith, N. Brew, Sweeney, Cooper, Black, Daly, Harrison, Hall, Charteris, Charvis, Ringer, Owen.
    Replacements: Hercus for Emerick (35), A. Brew for N. Brew (28), Crawford for Daly (69), Corsi for Harrison (75), Sidoli for Charteris (65), Fitisemanu for Owen (77). Not Used: Walker.

    Blues: Macleod, Blair, J. Robinson, Shanklin, Czekaj, N. Robinson, Evans, Yapp, G. Williams, Filise, Jones, Goode, Morgan, Shellard, Rush.
    Replacements: Hewitt for Shanklin (69), Fairhurst for Evans (55), Goodfield for G. Williams (73), G. Powell for Filise (61), Davies for Goode (69), White for Shellard (63). Not Used: Flanagan.

    Att: 10,000

    Referee: Hugh Watkins (WRU)

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    SEE ALSO
    BBC Sport Wales coverage
    01 May 06 |  Wales


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