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04th May 2007 20:30

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Charvis

Charvis: A threat in attack and defence

Newport-Gwent Dragons secured the win that guarantees them Heineken Cup action next season with a 23-0 Magners League win over struggling Connacht at Rodney Parade on Friday.

The Dragons were not taking anything for granted against the supposed weakest of the Irish provinces and had former Welsh captain Colin Charvis back in action following injury.

But it was Connacht who came out fighting and attacked from the kick-off.

The pressure was quickly stemmed by the home side and the game staggered to get going through the first quarter.

Dragons outside-half Aled Thomas and opposite number Paul Warwick both missed long-range penalties until Thomas punished Connacht for putting their hands in a ruck illegally with a 25-metre shot.

And the Welsh region began to find their feet as a dangerous kick ahead by Welsh international wing Aled Brew, who has been on loan for the season from the Ospreys and is going back this summer, forced Connacht defender Darren Yapp to desperately put the ball in touch right on his own line.

Lock Ian Gough, also on his way to the Ospreys at the end of the season, this time on a big permanent contract, showed his class by taking a good middle line out ball and was enveloped by the rest of his pack.

They spun their way around the fringes and drove Charvis over in the corner for the opening touchdown, which Thomas failed to convert from wide out.

It was not pretty stuff but a useful period for the Welshmen, who were trying to arrest a five-match losing streak as well as gain that point for a shot at Europe's top competition - if it goes ahead.

Connacht got their heads down again and reached the home line but a bad mistake, where wing Conor McPhillips, cutting inside on the right, failed to catch a simple pass inside the 22, lost them a good chance of scoring.

The Dragons went further in front right on half-time when Connacht were penalised for having a hand in a ruck and trying to pull the ball back on their side. That allowed Thomas to boot an effortless penalty from 30 metres out.

And the Dragons' lead was further extended after 51 minutes - but this time it was a solo effort from young wing Richard Fussell burst through the Connacht midfield and was only denied a try when wing McPhillips hauled him down only a metre or so from the line.

Yet another youngster, centre Gareth Maule, was backing up and the 19-year-old grabbed the ball to dive over under the posts. Thomas' conversion gave the Dragons a healthy 18-point margin.

Connacht did not do themselves any favours either as flanker John Muldoon was sin-binned just after the hour mark for some illegality at a ruck.

The Dragons should have scored again when they broke down the right for number eight Michael Owen to feed Maule - but the centre's pass to Fussell went to ground with the line at the youngster's mercy.

But Fussell was not to be denied his try and, after some good work from replacement scrum-half Gareth Baber, who caught a ball that seemed to be going to ground, the wing was fed and raced home.

One final attempt down the touchline from replacement wing Gareth Wyatt came to nothing but it did not matter as the Dragons finished comfortable victors.

The Scorers:

For Dragons:

Tries: Charvis, Maule, Fussell

Con: Thomas

Pens: Thomas 2

The teams:

Dragons: 15 Kevin Morgan (c), 14 Richard Fussell, 13 Paul Emerick, 12 Gareth Maule, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Alex Walker; 8 Michael Owen, 7 Colin Charvis, 6 Joe Bearman, 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Ian Gough, 3 Lee Harrison, 2 Steve Jones, 1 Adam Black.

Replacements: 16 Ben Daly, 17 Jamie Corsi, 18 Andrew Hall, 19 Dan Lydiate, 20 Gareth Wyatt, 21 Phil Dollman, 22 Gareth Baber.

Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy, 14 Darren Yapp, 13 Daniel Riordan, 12 John Hearty, 11 Conor McPhillips, 10 Paul Warwick, 9 Chris Keane, 8 Colm Rigney, 7 Ray Ofisa, 6 John Muldoon, 5 Andrew Farley, 4 David Gannon, 3 Stephen Knoop, 2 Adrian Flavin, 1 Brett Wilkinson.

Replacements: 16 Adrian Flavin, 17 Ronan Loughney, 18 Michael Swift, 19 David McGowan, 20 Peter Durcan, 21 Matt McHugh, 22 Ted Robinson.

Referee: Malcolm Changleng (SRU)

Touch judges: Gwyn Morris (WRU), David Jones (WRU)

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