Pro14: Dragons 29-35 Leinster


Leinster scrum-half Luke McGrath gains possession against Dragons
Dragons (15) 29
Try: L Baldwin, J Lewis Pens: S Davies 5 Cons: Davies 2
Leinster (14) 35
Tries: Dooley, Penny, Murphy, Penalty try, Sheehan Cons: R Byrne (4)

Champions Leinster extended their lead at the top of Conference A with a bonus-point Pro14 win over Dragons at Rodney Parade.

Tries from Peter Dooley, Scott Penny, Josh Murphy and Dan Sheehan plus a penalty try secured the victory.

Five Sam Davies penalties had seen Dragons lead 15-14 at half-time.

The hosts suffered yellow cards for Lloyd Fairbrother and Dan Baker but late tries from Luke Baldwin and Josh Lewis ensured a losing bonus point.

Sam Davies finished the game with 19 points but also decided to kick the ball out at the end of the game with the final play rather than attempt an unlikely victory.

Dragons have managed just three wins from their 11 Pro14 games this season and have lost their last seven matches in all competitions.

In contrast, Leinster sit top of Conference A after picking up 55 points from 11 wins in 12 matches.

The hosts welcomed back Wales international Jonah Holmes, who started on the wing having not featured since the New Year’s Day defeat to Scarlets.

They were without Wales centre Jamie Roberts following the birth of his son this week but Aneurin Owen made his debut.

There was a minute silence before the start of the season for Dragons academy member Ross Mohring who passed away recently.

Leinster number eight Jack Conan made his 100th appearance for the Irish region and produced a man-of-the-match display.

There was a late change with prop Tom Clarkson replacing Michael Bent and Greg McGrath coming in on the replacements’ bench.

Davies, who signed a new contract this week, opened the scoring after 15 minutes with a penalty after Ross Molony was penalised.

Davies doubled the lead after Jordan Williams was tackled early by Cian Kelleher, before his third successful effort from the halfway line built a 9-0 lead.

Prop Dooley reduced the deficit by charging over under the posts with Byrne converting.

Dragons outstanding flanker Ben Fry won a penalty almost immediately which Davies slotted over but the Leinster power told with a second try as flanker Penny crashed over.

Wales number eight Baker made his Dragons debut after replacing Matthew Screech and his introduction coincided with Davies slotting over his fifth penalty.

Sam Davies has played eight internationals for Wales
Sam Davies has played eight internationals for Wales

Dragons led by a point at the interval after foraging flanker Fry was denied a late first-half try because of obstruction from a driving lineout.

The hosts’ lineout woes early in the second half cost the Dragons after prop Fairbrother was yellow carded in his 100th Pro14 game for persistent offending, including no arms tackles and offside.

Flanker Murphy made use of the numerical advantage as he was driven over for Leinster’s third try. Dragons were reduced to 13 men when Baker was yellow-carded for a professional foul as Leinster secured a bonus-point try.

Replacement hooker Sheehan side-stepped his way over for Leinster’s fifth try before Dragons replacement scrum-half Baldwin dived over the home side’s opening try.

Another try from Lewis brought Dragons within six points and could have set up a grandstand finish, but Davies kicked the ball off the field instead of searching for the converted try which would have won the game for the home side.

This was a strange finale following a spirited Dragons fightback as Dean Ryan’s men settled for a losing bonus point.

Dragons director of rugby Dean Ryan: “In two or three months it (losing bonus point) will be important. I would hate to get to the end (of the season) and miss out on a point.

“I was asked a question whether I thought we could go 80 metres against Leinster on here and we would be lucky.

“That is a pretty difficult pitch to play on and you could see the style of rugby they were trying to play. So I think it was the right decision to get off and in a few weeks time that might look like a wise decision.”

Dragons: Jordan Williams; Jonah Holmes, Aneurin Owen, Jack Dixon, Ashton Hewitt; Sam Davies, Rhodri Williams (c); Brok Harris, Richard Hibbard, Lloyd Fairbrother, Joe Davies, Ben Carter, Matthew Screech, Ben Fry, Huw Taylor

Replacements: Ellis Shipp, Greg Bateman, Chris Coleman, Joe Maksymiw, Dan Baker, Luke Baldwin, Josh Lewis, Connor Edwards.

Leinster: Max O’Reilly; Cian Kelleher, Rory O’Loughlin, Ross Byrne, Dave Kearney; Harry Byrne, Luke McGrath (c); Peter Dooley, James Tracy, Tom Clarkson, Ross Molony, Ryan Baird, Josh Murphy, Scott Penny, Jack Conan

Replacements: Dan Sheehan, Marcus Hanan, Greg McGrath, Devin Toner, Scott Fardy, Rowan Osborne, David Hawkshaw, Jamie Osborne.

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU)

Assistant Referees: Dan Jones (WRU), Mike English (WRU)

TMO: Ian Davies (WRU)

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