Planet Rugby

Dragons hit Brive for six

31st March 2007 15:49

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Charvis

Charvis on the charge for the Dragons

Newport Gwent Dragons produced a stunning six-try display to beat Brive 39-17 in the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals at Rodney Parade on Saturday.

Kevin Morgan bagged an early brace of tries to set the Welsh region on their way in a result that means they are still unbeaten at home since September, and keep intact their proud record of having never lost to a French side at home.

Both sides already knew that Clermont Auvergne would be their opponents in the semi-finals after the French outfit beat Newcastle at Stade Marcel Michelin on Friday night, 24-19.

So, with a bumper Saturday afternoon crowd in Newport, the Dragons came out to attack their French opponents with some blistering play in the first quarter.

And it was the Welsh region's captain Kevin Morgan who led by example, helping himself to his tries in the first 20 minutes.

Morgan's opener came after a multi-phase move that lasted all of four minutes. The Dragons won ruck after ruck and it was only some resilient French defence which stemmed the flow.

Yet the resistence cracked when former Wales vice-captain Michael Owen fed scrum-half Alex Walker from a ruck five metres out for the number nine to give Morgan a direct run-in to the left corner.

Morgan may also be 30 years old but he has enjoyed a great revival in the past six months after injury, particularly with Wales, and he showed he still has a turn of speed by sprinting 30 yards around the Brive back-line to go over in the right corner this time.

The Dragons would have been more satisfied with that encouraging opening had outside-half Ceri Sweeney added the conversions but they still looked in control as the half-hour mark arrived.

However matters were about to take a turn and it was Fijian winger Filimone Boleavucu, who played against the Lions for New Zealand side Bay of Plenty in 2005, who had a big say in it.

Boleavucu found a gap through the Dragons midfield on half-way and gave the ball out to outside-half Luciano Orquera to run under the posts unopposed. However, the winger had clearly given a needless forward pass and Gloucestershire referee Wayne Barnes picked it up and pulled Orquera back for a scrum.

Brive would not be denied, though, as flankers Alexandre Maleyrie and captain Simon Azoulai made ground down the middle to the Dragons 22 before the ball was swung through lock Charl Van Rensburg and Orquera on the right to send Boleavucu in. Orquera landed a superb touchline conversion and suddenly Brive were only three points adrift.

But as quickly as they were back into the game, they found themselves way behind again. Two tries in as many minutes as half-time approached sent the Welshmen into a 24-7 half-time lead.

Loose-head prop Adam Black trundled over from five metres after the ball was flipped to him at a ruck and soon afterwards referee Barnes awarded the Dragons a penalty try as wing Gareth Wyatt and lock Peter Sidoli tried to combine for their team's fourth touchdown, only for Wyatt to be denied an easy run-in when centre Ludovic Valbon deliberately knocked the ball on from a ruck on his own line.

The heavens opened at half-time but it affected Brive more than the Welshmen as, within two minutes of the re-start, the Dragons were over 30 points when a loose line-out throw on the French line saw flanker Jamie Ringer pounce on the loose ball for another try. Sweeney's touchline conversion made it a hat-trick of extra points from him.

The downpour slowed the game right down but Brive's frustration showed when they had an attacking line-out on the home line but messed up their signals for hooker Jawad Djoudi.

And again dangerman Boleavucu crashed through the Dragons' centres but once more his pass to the supporting Orquera went astray as the stand-off dropped the ball.

Inevitable replacements brought on from either side disrupted the game's rhythm, which was only to the home team's benefit.

But Brive were the ones who got back into shape quicker and two tries from centre Suka Hufanga midway through the second period began to send seeds of doubts into the home team.

A Ceri Sweeney penalty, though, eased the nerves and the Dragons rounded off a superb afternoon when Wales wing Aled Brew scored in the corner to seal a convincing win

The Scorers:

For the Dragons:

Tries: Morgan 2, Black, Ringer, Brew, Penalty

Cons: Sweeney 3

Pen: Sweeney

For Brive:

Tries: Boleavucu, Hufanga 2

Con: Orquera

The Teams

Dragons: 15 Kevin Morgan (c), 14 Gareth Wyatt, 13 Paul Emerick, 12 Nathan Brew, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Ceri Sweeney, 9 Alex Walker, 8 Michael Owen, 7 Jamie Ringer, 6 Colin Charvis, 5 Peter Sidoli, 4 Ian Gough, 3 Lee Harrison, 2 Ben Daly, 1 Adam Black.

Replacements: 16 Steve Jones, 17 Jamie Corsi, 18 Dai Maddocks, 19 Luke Charteris, 20 Nic Fitisemanu, 21 Gareth Cooper, 22 Aled Thomas.

Brive: 15 Nicolas Le Roux, 14 Filimone Boleavucu, 13 Ludovic Valbon, 12 Suka Hufanga, 11 Alexis Palisson, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Tim Clark, 8 Rudy Cheron, 7 Alexendre Maleyrie, 6 Simon Azoulai (c), 5 Charl van Rensburg, 4 Christian Petre, 3 Pierre Capdevielle, 2 Jawad Djoudi, 1 Pierre-Philippe Lafond.

Replacements: 16 Julien Campo, 17 Petrisor Toderasc, 18 Fabien Domingo, 19 Jerome Bonvoisin, 20 Jean-Baptiste Pejoine, 21 Maxime Petitjean, 22 Sébastien Bonetti.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)

Touch judges: Dave Pearson (England), Paul Dix (England)

Assessor: Douglas Kerr (Scotland)

Television match official: Laurie Bryant (England), Graham Highes (England)

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