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Last Updated: Friday, 2 January, 2004, 20:39 GMT
Dragons overwhelm Borders
Borders 15-38 Dragons

CELTIC LEAGUE
Borders flanker Semo Sititi is tackled by Gerald Arasa
Borders: (10) 15
Tries: Morton, Douglas
Cons: Morton
Pens: Morton
Dragons: (20) 38
Tries: Montgomery, Owen 2, Tuipuluto
Cons: Montgomery 3
Pens: Montgomery 4
Att: 3,000
Michael Owen and Percy Montgomery inspired the Dragons as they wrecked Borders' quest to kick-start their Celtic League campaign at Netherdale.

Owen marked his comeback from a long injury lay-off by claiming two tries and Montgomery bagged a touchdown as well as several crucial kicks.

Bruce Douglas and Gareth Morton scored tries to give Borders hope.

But Sione Tuipulotu's stoppage-time try, converted by Montgomery, sealed victory for the visitors.

Dragons took the lead after only one minute with full-back Montgomery confidently slotting a penalty.

The first try came almost immediately as Wales lock Owen finished off a searing break by centre Hal Luscombe.

Montgomery added the extras and then banged over another penalty when the struggling home side illegally pulled down a Dragons jumper at a lineout.

Now we have got to believe we can challenge for the league
Dragons coach Mike Ruddock
And in the 17th minute, Montgomery darted over again and then clipping over the conversion.

Borders soaked up more heavy pressure before rallying to end the half on a brighter note.

Douglas was in the right place at the right time to plough across in the wake of a series of short penalties. Gareth Morton added the goal.

Then Morton was on target again with an offside penalty from 30m to give his team a glimmer of hope.

Borders suffered another setback just after the restart, however, as Montgomery completed his penalty treble.

But again they responded through an opportunist try by Morton, who claimed the vital touch after chasing Clark Laidlaw's chip into the danger zone.

Dragons roared back to stem the home surge with the impressive Owen powering through for his second touchdown.

We missed too many tackles and lacked go-forward ball
Borders coach Tony Gilbert
Montgomery was wide with the conversion - but made quick amends by firing over another penalty.

Then in stoppage time, he rounded off the rout by converting Sione Tuipulotu's try.

"After the 20-point gift at the start they only won the match 18-15," said Borders coach Tony Gilbert. "But overall they were the better side and deserved to win.

"The Borders showed a lot of courage and honesty and did well to fight back, but we missed too many tackles and lacked go-forward ball."

Dragons coach Mike Ruddock was upbeat after securing all the points from a tricky away tie.

"Now we have got to believe we can challenge for the league," he told the South Wales Argus. "Let's believe we can do it.

"Michael Owen made a dream debut, I'm pleased for him after the disappointment of missing out on the World Cup."


Teams:

Borders: G Morton; S Paterson, J Stuart, K Utterson (capt), C Moir; C Laidlaw, C Cusiter; K Todd, R Ford, B Douglas, S MacLeod, C Stewart, C Feather, D Kane, S Sititi.
Replacements: S Scott, G Cross, D Weir, T Walker, I Fairley, C MacRae, C Murray.

Dragons: P Montgomery; G Arasa, H Luscombe, S Winn, B Breeze; L Jarvis, G Baber; A Black, P Young, C Anthony, M Owen, P Sidoli, J Ringer, J Forster (capt), R Beattie.
Replacements: S Tuipulotu, A Marinos, R Jones, R Thomas, K Crawford, I Gough, S van Rensburg.

Referee: Simon McDowell (Ireland).




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