The Ospreys' day to forget reached a dismal conclusion at Rodney Parade as they suffered an emphatic 40-19 LV= Cup defeat.
The Ospreys' day to forget reached a dismal conclusion at Rodney Parade as they suffered an emphatic 40-19 LV= Cup defeat to the Dragons.
Despite fielding Wales stars Shane Williams and Adam Jones eight days before the Six Nations opener against England, Ospreys were grounded by a fired-up Dragons side.
The good news for Wales coach Warren Gatland was that wing Williams and prop Jones emerged unscathed, both playing the full 80 minutes and gaining important match practice following injury-disrupted seasons.
But the Ospreys had little else to cheer as news of full-back Lee Byrne's two-week ban and a 25,000 euros fine for temporarily fielding 16 players against Heineken Cup opponents Leicester last weekend sunk in.
The Dragons, despite making an early exit from Europe, kept alive their Anglo-Welsh quarter-final ambitions.
First-half tries by lock Adam Jones and skipper Ashley Smith set the tone, while fly-half Jason Tovey booted 25 points from seven penalties and two conversions before wing Aled Brew claimed a late touchdown.
It meant Tovey set a new points record for the Dragons in one game, beating the previous mark of 23 he shared with ex-South African star Percy Montgomery.
Tovey's immaculate kicking return helped batter the Ospreys into submission, although they occasionally rallied with tries for teenage Wales squad member Tom Prydie and fly-half Gareth Owen, while there was also a penalty try and two Prydie conversions.
The Dragons, striving to avoid a seventh successive defeat in all competitions, cruised 17-0 ahead in as many minutes.
Jones touched down following a sniping break by scrum-half Wayne Evans, then Smith rounded off the excellent approach work of centre Matthew Watkins to claim his team's second try.
Although the Ospreys briefly stirred through Owen's touchdown, Tovey kicked three quickfire penalties – his second after visiting scrum-half Jamie Nutbrown was sin-binned.
An Ospreys penalty try on the stroke of half-time gave them hope, yet a fourth Tovey penalty after 43 minutes took the Dragons 15 points clear.
A well-worked score for Prydie narrowed the gap, but prolific marksman Tovey immediately took the Dragons past 30 points before a seventh penalty meant Ospreys had no way back.
Tovey left the field to a standing ovation in the 68th-minute, his switch from full-back to fly-half proving an unqualified success for Dragons boss Paul Turner.
And the Dragons extended an already healthy advantage when Brew sprinted over, setting themselves up for a tilt at Guinness Premiership title contenders Saracens in nine days' time.
For the Dragons:
Tries: Jones, Smith, Brew
Con: Tovey 2
Pen: Tovey 7
For the Ospreys:
Tries: Owen, Penalty, Prydie
Con: Prydie 2
Dragons: 15 Martyn Thomas, 14 Will Harries, 13 Matthew Watkins, 12 Ashley Smith (c), 11 Aled Brew, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Wayne Evans, 8 Grant Webb. 7 James Harris, 6 Gavin Thomas, 5 Hoani MacDonald, 4 Adam Jones, 3 Pat Palmer, 2 Steve Jones, 1 Ali Mckenzie.
Replacements: 16 Lloyd Burns, 17 Aaron Coundley, 18 Ben Castle, 19 Rob Sidoli, 20 Danny Lydiate, 21 James Leadbeater, 22 James Arlidge, 23 Richard Fussell.
Ospreys: 15 Barry Davies, 14 Kristian Phillips, 13 Sonny Parker, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Gareth Owen, 9 Jamie Nutbrown, 8 Tom Smith, 7 Steve Tandy (c), 6 Ben Lewis, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Andy Lloyd, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Ed Shervington, 1 Ryan Bevington.
Replacements: 16 Marc Breeze, 17 Craig Mitchell, 18 Cai Griffiths, 19 James Goode, 20 James King, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Matthew Jarvis, 23 Tom Prydie.
Referee: Greg Garner