Dragons' losing streak in URC continues after Warriors power to win at Parade
THE Dragons endured a whitewash in the second block of the United Rugby Championship after suffering a 42-28 hammering to Glasgow at Rodney Parade.
Dai Flanagan’s men were outscored six tries to four to end a chunk of the season that featured six league defeats to go with a win, draw and two losses in Europe.
The Dragons started and finished the first half poorly to trail 28-14 with tries by scrum-half Rhodri Williams and centre Sio Tomkinson sandwiched by Glasgow braces.
The Warriors had their bonus point in the bag before the break and set about ensuring it was a five-point haul for their play-off bid.
They stretched further away soon after the resumption before a try by flanker Taine Basham gave the Dragons hope at 35-21.
It was snuffed out late on with an interception try, the Warriors’ sixth, by Sebastian Cancelliere before replacement tighthead Chris Coleman barged over for the consolation of a four-try bonus.
Defeat means that for all the progress and positivity made under Dai Flanagan this season, the Dragons are in familiar territory heading into the run-in with just .
They started the season with three wins in the first block of the URC but have lost all six since the break for the autumn internationals.
The Dragons headed into winter with hope of avoiding the Welsh wooden spoon but now look likely to once again be ranked fourth after the resurgent Scarlets ahead.
As usual, Zebre are the only team beneath them in the table.
This game was always likely to be a test of their squad depth with a long injury list and four Wales absentees ahead of the Six Nations (although Glasgow were boosted by six of their Scotland contingent).
The Dragons opted for a hefty pack featuring four locks for the first half and disappointingly they conceded a pair of tries from the lineout drive.
They also paid the price for rush of blood to the young head of hooker Brodie Coghlan with a yellow card on the stroke of half-time allowing the Warriors to turn a 21-14 lead into a 35-14 one. He’ll learn.
The Dragons were second best by a distance and will hope to put in a better account of themselves on April 1 when they are fully-loaded for the last-16 tie in the European Challenge Cup at Scotstoun Stadium.
It was a chastening afternoon and Flanagan will hope his charges come back refreshed for tough encounters with Leinster and Connacht during the Six Nations period.
The call was for a strong opening by the Dragons after a first-half shocker against the Lions in Ystrad Mynach yet they made a horrendous start to fall 14-0 down with eight minutes on the clock.
Poor defence allowed winger Cole Forbes to canter over after the midfield pair of Stafford McDowall and Sam Johnson combined.
Then, after poor Dragons discipline, Scotland hooker Fraser Brown scored from a driving lineout with fly-half Duncan Weir adding his second conversion.
The home side needed to respond and they did just that through a direct approach with the forwards and centre Jack Dixon hammering away in the 22.
A big carry from Sean Lonsdale led to scrum-half Williams sniping over from five metres at an unattended ruck, fly-half JJ Hanrahan adding the simple extras.
That was swiftly followed by Tomkinson picking off a McDowall pass to go over from 40 metres and thanks to Hanrahan’s conversion it was level-pegging after a manic first quarter of the game.
However, the Dragons were penalised from the restart, Glasgow went back to the corner and Brown repeated the trick down the right with Weir, after the TMO gave the all clear for possible obstruction, continuing his perfect start from the tee.
The Warriors put the pressure on as half-time approached and kicked another penalty into the 22 but the Dragons stood firm from the drive this time and then loosehead Rhodri Jones, on his first appearance since December 10 because of a calf injury, came up with a timely turnover.
However, there was still time for a costly error by the excitable Brodie Coghlan on his first start with the hooker shown yellow for clobbering Scotland scrum-half Ali Price off the ball.
That allowed Glasgow to hunt their bonus try and it came in scrappy fashion, wing Forbes failing to gather a pass close to the line but the ball going backwards for Weir to gather, reach over then convert for a 28-14 lead at the break.
Glasgow thought they had their fifth after 43 minute when Lewis Bean went over from close range but a TMO review showed that the giant lock had reached back into a ruck for the ball before crossing.
However, the Warriors ensured Coghlan’s moment of madness – a lesson that cameras are everywhere at this level – cost 14 points when McDowall cut a lovely line to go over for a 35-14 lead.
The Dragons needed a pick-me-up and got one when penalties were kicked to the corner and, after the drive was defended well, Basham crashed over thanks to a strong leg drive.
More Glasgow indiscipline allowed them to swiftly go back on the hunt in the 22 entering the final quarter but the Dragons weren’t quite accurate enough to get their fourth and add to the visitors’ nerves.
The Warriors needed just one more score of any kind to kill the game but opted against kicking a penalty and botched a five-metre lineout with 10 to go.
The Dragons had a shot at a pair of bonuses and potentially a draw… but Hanrahan’s pass was picked off in the 22 and wing Cancelliere went the distance with Tom Jordan converting for a 42-21 lead.
A turnstile tackle by Sam Davies was reprieved by the TMO chalking off a Jamie Dobie breakaway and the hosts ended with a consolation, hammering away before Coleman went over.
Dragons: J Williams (S Davies 64); Rosser (S Hughes 48), Tomkinson, Dixon, Hewitt; Hanrahan, R Williams (captain, L Jones 70); R Jones (Seiuli 48), Coghlan (Benjamin 70), Fairbrother (Coleman 48), Screech, Carter, Nott (Fry 40-41, Benjamin 41-48), Lonsdale (Taylor 70), Basham.
Scorers: tries – R Williams, Tomkinson, Basham, Coleman; conversions – Hanrahan (4)
Glasgow scorers: tries – Forbes, Brown (2), Weir, McDowall, Cancelliere; conversions – Weir (5), Jordan.
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland).