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Groves try rescues Dragons

29th March 2014 16:43

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In-form: Jason Tovey

A late converted Jevon Groves try snatched a 25-25 draw for the Dragons against Zebre at Stadio XXV Aprile in Parma on Saturday.

Both sides had won just once in their past five matches in the PRO12, and with confidence perhaps in short supply, it took a yellow card to create the space necessary for a try to be scored.

Toby Faletau's indiscretion at a maul with just over quarter of an hour left the visitors a man light and Zebre took full advantage as a strong scrum and a spree of pick-and-drives from forwards sucked in the opposition defence; Samuela Vunisa had enough power to force his way over the line out wide.

The conversion and a pair of penalties were added by a combination of Luciano Orquera and Gonzalo Garcia but it was the Dragons who went into the half-time interval with the lead as they produced some enterprising rugby as the half wore on.

Full-back Dan Evans was the first to cross the whitewash for them after a powerful burst up the middle from centre Pat Leach laid the platform for Richie Rees and Jason Tovey to spin the ball wide.

And Ashley Smith followed that up with a score of his own five minutes before the break as he took advantage of a sizeable overlap after a strong run from captain Andrew Coombs and some good distribution from Rees and Tom Prydie. Tovey added the conversion and a late penalty to give the Welshmen a two-point advantage at the halfway stage.

With the match so finely poised, the second half - perhaps inevitably - developed into a tense and nervy affair with Zebre desperate to record back-to-back home wins for the first time ever and the Dragons eager to maintain their 100 per cent record against the Italian outfit.

Orquera and Tovey exchanged penalties in the opening fifteen minutes of the second period as the lead changed hands but the Italian international fly-half was more reliable from the tee than his opposite number. His fourth and fifth penalties of the afternoon gave the home side a seven-point lead going into the final five minutes.

The scene was set for the crowd to celebrate a third home win of the season but replacement Groves hadn't read the script as he picked up the ball from the base of a ruck and ran straight through the middle of the Zebre defence to silence the home support.

Tovey added the conversion to ensure that the spoils were shared and the end result was perhaps fair, though not one either team is likely to be happy with - both remain languishing in the lower reaches of the table.

The scorers:

For Zebre:
Try: Vunisa
Con: Orquera
Pens: Garcia, Orquera 4

For Dragons:
Tries: Evans, Smith, Groves
Cons: Tovey 2
Pens: Tovey 2
Yellow card: Faletau

The teams:

Zebre: 15 Guglielmo Palazzani, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Tommaso Iannone, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Dion Berryman, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Samuela Vunisa, 7 Andries van Schalkwyk, 6 Filippo Ferrarini, 5 Marco Bortolami (c), 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 David Ryan, 2 Davide Giazzon, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Tommaso D'apice, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Emiliano Caffini, 20 Filippo Cristiano, 21 David Odiete, 22 Giovanbattista Venditti, 23 Kameli Ratuvou.

Dragons: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Ashley Smith, 11 Will Harries, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Taulupe Faletau. 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Lewis Evans, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Andrew Coombs (c), 3 Duncan Bell, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Bruce Douglas, 18 Nathan Buck, 19 Cory Hill, 20 Jevon Groves, 21 Wayne Evans, 22 Jack Dixon, 23 Hallam Amos.

Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ire)

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