Dragons book semi-final berth

Date published: April 4 2015

Dragons booked their place in the European Challenge Cup semi-finals on Saturday with a 25-21 win over Cardiff Blues at  Rodney Parade.

The home side were forced to do it the hard way, coming back from being 14-3 down inside the first half-hour.

The teams scored three tries apiece but the home side racked up 22 unanswered points between the 35th and 67th minutes to take the game by the scruff of the neck.

Tries from Blues half-backs Lloyd Williams and Gareth Anscombe gave the visitors a commanding early lead but the Dragons came charging back as tries from Tom Prydie and Nic Cudd as well as a penalty try in the space of 15 minutes gave the Dragons the initiative.

It had started perfectly for the Blues, who won an early five-metre scrum and after a couple of bursts, Williams found a gap around the fringes to power over.

Anscombe converted but Prydie struck straight back for the Dragons with a penalty, who saw Taulupe Faletau enter the fray earlier than expected when Andrew Coombs was forced off through injury.

Still, it was the Blues who were dominating, and Anscombe showed his quick feet to dance over for the visitors' second try after 25 minutes, with the conversion making it 14-3.

The Dragons needed a response and they got one with five minutes to go before the half as Amos popped up on the shoulder of Jonathan Evans to crash over. Prydie converted and it was a four-point deficit at the break.

The home side started the second half the better, and again used their lineout to good effect, with replacement Cudd squeezing over after Faletau's initial charge.

Leading for the first time, despite Prydie's missed conversion, the Dragons were able to stretch their advantage when Williams was charged down off the back of a scrum. He pulled back Evans, who was chasing, earning a yellow card and conceding a penalty try in the process.

With Prydie's conversion the score was 22-14, and Dorian Jones added another three points with 13 minutes to go as the Dragons looked to be home and dry.

The introduction of Adam Jones made a big difference for the Blues though, and after one powerful scrum, Josh Navidi scored, with Anscombe's conversion cutting the deficit to four.

That set up a grandstand finish, but despite getting onto the Dragons line, the Blues couldn't find a way over, eventually conceding a penalty and seeing their semi-final hopes disappear.

The scorers:

For Dragons:
Tries: Amos, Cudd, Penalty try
Cons: Prydie 2
Pens: Prydie 2, D Jones

For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Williams, Anscombe, Navidi
Cons: Anscombe 3

Dragons: 15 Jason Tovey, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Dorian Jones, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 Nick Crosswell, 7 James Benjamin, 6 James Thomas, 5 Cory Hill, 4 Andrew Coombs, 3 Brok Harris, 2 T Rhys Thomas (c), 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Gustafson, 17 Lloyd Fairbrother, 18 Dan Way, 19 Toby Faletau, 20 Nic Cudd, 21 Luc Jones, 22 Tyler Morgan, 23 Rhys Jones.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Joaquin Tuculet, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Richard Smith, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Josh Navidi, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Lou Reed, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Matthew Rees (c), 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Adam Jones, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Simon Humberstone, 23 Gareth Davies.

Venue: Rodney Parade
Referee: JP Doyle (England)
Assistant referees: Greg Garner (England), Matthew Carley (England)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)