Planet Rugby

Dragons make it into Europe

07th May 2008 06:54

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Shaun Connor is joining the Dragons next season, but he did his utmost to inflict defeat on his new region at Rodney Parade but to no avail on Tuesday, as the Dragons beat the Ospreys 18-10 to secure Heineken cup qualification.

The outside-half converted his own try and booted a penalty in the first half to keep the Ospreys in this Magners League match and on course for a double, having won 16-3 in Swansea a fortnight ago.

While the match was a dead rubber for the Ospreys to the extent they let a dozen of their Wales Grand Slam-winning players go on a national training camp in Ireland, there was a great deal on it for the Gwent men.

So much so that Dragons coach Paul Turner could not allow his captain Colin Charvis to go away on that trip, with a European place next season on the line.

They were due to play a club from Italy for the final Heineken Cup place at the end of May but the Italian Federation said, hours before today's kick-off, they could not nominate one because their national championships would still be taking place when the play-off game was due.

It meant the Dragons needed just one point to qualify ahead of league basement club Connacht and they began their clash with the Ospreys in determined manner, with Wales full-back Kevin Morgan going over for a try within five minutes after a darting run from 30 metres.

They were, though, pulled back to 11-10 at the interval although, oddly, the Ospreys' best periods came while centre Jonathan Spratt and scrum-half Rhys Webb were languishing in the sin-bin.

Outside-half Ceri Sweeney booted two penalties to one from Connor before full-back Gareth Owen beat the defence from 30 yards to put his stand-off in from a metre.

Connor converted and nearly put the Ospreys ahead with a drop-goal after the break as they exerted further pressure before and after Webb's return.

The Dragons' old Achilles heel, a failure to get the last pass away in attack, dogged them but just before the hour they extended their lead when centre Phil Dollman ran to the corner, threw an inside pass and Charvis picked up off his toes to cross, which Sweeney converted.

Connor nearly made them pay again only for a brilliant last-gasp Morgan tackle to deny him a second try.

The Ospreys just would not lay down yet could not find a way through the gutsy defence of the opposition in the final quarter and the Dragons were home and in the Heineken Cup next term.

The scorers:

For the Dragons:

Tries: Morgan, Charvis

Con: Sweeney

Pens: Sweeney 2

For the Ospreys:

Try: Connor

Con: Connor

Pen: Connor

The Dragons: 15 Kevin Morgan, 14 Gareth Wyatt, 13 Rhodri Gomer Davies, 12 Phillip Dollman, 11 Richard Fussell, 10 Ceri Sweeney, 9 Wayne Evans, 8 Michael Owen, 7 Richard Parks, 6 Colin Charvis (c), 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Adam Jones, 3 Lee Harrison, 2 Ben Daly, 1 Adam Black.

Replacements: Steve Jones, Gethin Robinson, Hugh Gustafson, Andy Hall, Lewis Evans, James Harris, Paul Emerick.

The Ospreys: 15 Gareth Owen, 14 Leigh Bevan, 13 Mark Taylor, 12 Jonathan Spratt, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Shaun Connor, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Tom Smith, 7 Steve Tandy, 6 Hale T-Pole, 5 Lyndon Bateman, 4 Andy Lloyd, 3 Cai Griffiths, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paul James (c).

Replacements: 16 Ed Shervington, 17 Craig Mitchell, 18 Mike Powell, 19 Filo Tiatia, 20 Martin Roberts, 21 Ashley Beck, 22 Kristian Phillips.

Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU).

Touch Judges: David Bodilly (WRU), Huw David (WRU).

TMO: Derek Bevan (WRU)

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