Dragons flyer Will Harries scored a hat-trick of tries as the Welsh region clocked up a fine 49-28 win over Edinburgh on Sunday.
Dragons flyer Will Harries scored a hat-trick of tries as the Welsh region clocked up an emphatic 49-28 win over Edinburgh at Rodney Parade on Sunday.
The Welshmen crossed the whitewash seven times to dent Edinburgh's Magners League play-off hopes and keep their own slight chances of the title alive.
Edinburgh made their way down from Scotland on Saturday by road due to the volcanic ash situation that has shut airports across Europe.
And, despite the long journey, the fifth-placed Scotsmen were keen to get the win for their play-off chances.
The seventh-placed Dragons can still make the play-offs themselves after this triumph but have been buoyed by the Cardiff Blues win over the Scarlets on Saturday that ensured them Heineken Cup rugby next season.
And none of the international trio could have disappointed with the match as the Dragons went into the break 20-14 ahead.
The lead changed hands four times by then after home scrum-half Wayne Evans' burst into the corner had secured the first try of the game.
That lead did not last long as, almost straight from the re-start, Edinburgh's Scotland international outside-half Phil Godman picked up on a loose ball and fed flanker Alan MacDonald to go over under the posts.
Godman's conversion put Edinburgh 7-5 ahead but a blast through the middle from 25 metres out by centre Ashley Smith restored the Dragons' lead.
Evans converted as regular kicker Jason Tovey was being treated for an injury. And the big blow for the Welshmen was that Tovey, who was probably one player that Gatland had been watching, came off.
MacDonald was superbly tackled in the corner and Godman nearly scored from the ruck but was brilliantly wrapped up as he went over the line by flanker Gavin Thomas.
It did not help the Dragons cause either that loose-head prop Hugh Gustafson was sin-binned for dropping the scrum on his own line which, moments later, led to referee James Jones awarding a penalty try that gave Edinburgh a 14-12 lead.
Tovey's replacement, James Arlidge, restored the home advantage with a penalty and Harries increased it with a good try right on half-time.
And it just got even better for the Dragons in the next 40 minutes as Edinburgh missed tackles and created little in the way of attack.
Arlidge added another penalty after the break and Harries the other two tries before the hour to complete his hat-trick.
Edinburgh were now 21 points behind and could hardly expect to overcome their opponents.
But, with some renewed vigour in the final quarter, they gave themselves a slender hope as centre Ben Cairns went under the posts, with Godman's conversion meaning they could draw with two more converted tries.
However, any revival was killed off completely when wing Richard Fussell grabbed a sixth touchdown and full-back Martyn Thomas scored a spectacular 60-metre effort.
To their credit, Edinburgh fought to get something out of the match and managed it when hooker Ross Ford came out of a pile of bodies with the ball and they secured their try bonus point.
Tries: Evans, Smith, Harries 3, Fussell, Thomas
Cons: Evans, Arlidge 3
Pens: Arlidge 2
Tries: MacDonald, penalty, Cairns, Ford
Cons: Godman 4
Dragons: 15 Martyn Thomas, 14 Will Harries, 13 Matthew Watkins, 12 Ashley Smith, 11 Richards Fussell, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Wayne Evans, 8 Toby Faletau 7 Gavin Thomas, 6 Joe Bearman, 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Rob Sidoli, 3 Pat Palmer, 2 Tom Willis (c), 1 Hugh Gustafson. Replacements: 16 Lloyd Burns, 17 Ben Castle, 18 Hoani MacDoanld, 19 Andrew Coombs, 20 Tom Riley, 21 James Arlidge, 22 Alex Walker
Edinburgh: 15 Jim Thompson, 14 Mark Robertson, 13 Ben Cairns, 12 John Houston, 11 Tim Visser10 Phil Godman, 9 Mike Blair (captain), 8 David Callam, 7 Ross Rennie, 6 Alan MacDonald, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Scott MacLeod, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Jacobsen.
Replacements (from): 16 Andrew Kelly, 17 Kyle Traynor, 18 Fraser McKenzie, 19 Roddy Grant, 20 Greig Laidlaw, 21 David Blair, 22 Simon Webster.
Referee: David Jones (Wales)