Tovey bails out the Dragons

20th Feb 2010, 07:14

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Jason Tovey: To the Dragons' rescue

Jason Tovey: To the Dragons' rescue

Fly-half Jason Tovey came to the Dragons' rescue in Ulster on Friday, as he helped the visitors overturn a 17-6 deficit for a 22-22 draw.

Fly-half Jason Tovey came to the Dragons' rescue in Ulster on Friday, as he helped the visitors overturn a 17-6 deficit for a 22-22 draw.

The result though will have been much more valued by Paul Turner's Dragons, who battled back from a 17-6 deficit and who have only managed one league win away from Rodney Parade this season.

Man of the match Jason Tovey continued his good form by scoring 17 points with the boot, making six kicks from six attempts, while his opposite number Ian Humphreys had a mixed night with his kicking and was wide with a late penalty and drop-goal.

The sides exchanged penalties in the opening 20 minutes with Humphreys and Tovey bagging two each to tie the scores before the game exploded into life four minutes before the half-hour.

A Dragons midfield move broke down and Paddy Wallace hacked downfield. Aled Brew collected the ball but from the ruck, the clearance drifted infield and Ulster immediately countered to great effect.

Humphreys fed Darren Cave who made a great burst and fed Dan Tuohy who then offloaded to Wallace, and the Ireland centre burst through Pat Palmer's tackle to score.

Humphreys missed the extras but made amends three minutes later with a penalty to stretch Ulster's lead to 14-6.

Just after the half-hour, lovely hands from Wallace put Cave into open country but when Isaac Boss was impeded at the ruck by Rhodri Gomer-Davies, referee Peter Allan sent the Dragons' centre on his way to the bin.

Humphreys converted the penalty and Ulster looked comfortable at 17-6 in front. However, the Dragons, down to 14 men, battled back and when Ulster were penalised at a scrum, after 35 minutes, Tovey got three more points on the board.

Just when they needed to keep their composure, Ulster then lost the plot after a neat Dragons counter from a turnover had seen them advance up the right touchline.

With the ball out of play, Ireland hooker Rory Best - playing his first game for Ulster this season - got involved in a needless melee and was rightly shown a yellow card by Allan. The resulting penalty saw Tovey make no mistake and Ulster's lead was now cut to five points.

The half ended with Ulster leading 17-12 after Humphreys was wide with a long-range penalty and then the Dragons hit the ground running at the restart when hooker Steve Jones was driven over the Ulster line from a lineout as the visitors, with Gomer-Davies back on the field, made the extra man count.

Tovey's conversion gave the Dragons the lead for the first time at 19-17, but Ulster, now with Best restored, worked the ball from a lineout and with Wallace and Cave making headway the ball was spun through quick hands to put Simon Danielli in at the left corner for an unconverted score.

Ulster's lead was short-lived though as a snap Tovey drop-goal levelled the scores at 22-22. Humphreys had two chances to put Ulster back in front but he was just short with a 65th-minute penalty and then was wide with a late drop goal.

The scorers:

For Ulster:
Tries: Wallace, Danielli
Pens: Humphreys 4

For the Dragons:
Try: Jones
Con: Tovey
Pens: Tovey 4
Drop goal: Tovey

Ulster: 15 Jamie Smith, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Simon Danielli, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Chris Henry (c), 7 David Pollock, 6 TJ Anderson, 5 Ed O'Donoghue, 4 Daniel Tuohy, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Rory Best, 1 Bryan Young.
Replacements: 16 Nigel Brady, 17 Declan Fitzpatrick, 18 Ryan Caldwell, 19 Robbie Diack, 20 Ian Porter, 21 Ian Whitten, 22 Timoci Nagusa.

Dragons: 15 Martyn Thomas, 14 Will Harries, 13 Tom Riley, 12 Rhodri Gomer Davies, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Wayne Evans, 8 Grant Webb, 7 Gavin Thomas, 6 Danny Lydiate, 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Rob Sidoli, 3 Pat Palmer, 2 Steve Jones, 1 Hugh Gustafson.
Replacements: 16 Tom Willis, 17 Ben Castle, 18 Adam Jones, 19 James Harris, 20 Matthew Watkins, 21 James Arlidge, 22 James Leadbeater.

Referee: Peter Allan (Scotland)