Monday, 16 November 2009

Who would win if a Tiger fought a Dragon: a Tiger at the moment

Gareth Aldred's report from the Dragons' official site.

Newport Gwent Dragons put up a spirited fight against Leicester Tigers losing 29-20 at a blustery Welford Road. The Men of Gwent proved a constant threat as they appeared dangerous in attack and were very unfortunate to not leave with a sensational win, deserving a brace of bonus points at the least.

The Dragons battled back from an 11-point deficit to take a 12-11 half-time lead thanks to fantastic tries from young starlets Jason Tovey and Aled Brew both converted by captain, Shaun Connor. The home side responded with an early second-half touchdown for Anthony Allen, followed by a controversial penalty try to put Leicester in command. Paul Turner’s men didn’t lie down as a late interception try by Rhodri Gomer Davies provided a tense finish.

The region started brightly forcing Leicester into a mistake from the kick-off, but Connor was unable to convert a difficult penalty as it bounced off the upright. The Tigers response was immediate as they raced into the opposition half, only for Tovey to save the Men of Gwent twice in early exchanges.

Leicester’s attack looked dangerous, but the
Dragons defence held firm with Rhodri Gomer Davies orchestrating the resistance. The region couldn’t prevent Staunton slotting the opening points though, as they strayed offside at the fringes in their own twenty-two.

Further ill-discipline at the ruck area allowed Staunton to double his tally as Tigers took a 6-0 lead after 16 minutes. Three minutes later
Dragons were penalised for ‘diving in’ but the Irish outside-half was unable to convert in the strong winds.

The visitors were always a threat in attack, but were struggling to capitalise on their pressure as Leicester’s forwards proved too powerful. The home pack began to heavily dominate as they drove the opposition over the try line from eight metres out giving Jordan Crane the simplest of touchdowns.

Leicester hunted for another score, but the hard hitting Davies turned over ball and released Will Harries down the right wing. Summer signing Harries showed real gas to accelerate away from the chasing Tigers before assisting Tovey. Connor converted to leave them trailing 11-7 after 30 minutes.

The hosts were comfortable in their traditional forward authority and again flirted with the line as they elected for a scrum from consecutive penalties. However, Tigers were adjudged to have wheeled the set-play and gave
Dragons the chance to escape unscathed. The Dragons decided to turn adventurous from the scrum as they released Brew. The magnificent solo effort from his twenty-two left four defenders trailing as he slid in the corner.

The Rodney Parade outfit continued to worry their opponents with the flair of the backs creating gaps in a normally solid Tigers defence. The first-half finished 12-11 to the visitors.
The interval sparked the Englishmen into action as scrum-half Ben Youngs crafted an opening in the
Dragons line. Quick ball from the break down allowed Allen to score a straightforward try which Staunton failed to convert.

Dragons searched for an instant reply with Will Harries claiming a try after a tight chase with Lote Tuqiri, but the match official was unable to award the score. Leicester attempted to change the pattern of play as they kept the ball tight not allowing the visitors to play after continual scares. The Tigers crowd boosted their side as they camped on the Dragons line, their pressure handed them a penalty try in the 55th minute as the Dragons received harsh punishment for their apparent persistent offending.

Staunton slotted the conversion before making his departure for the return of Toby Flood, but the international couldn’t change the flow of the game as
Dragons ripped through Tigers in broken play. Leicester were cynical in defence as they killed quick ball resulting in Connor adding to his score with a simple penalty to trail 23-15.

Gomer Davies piled extra pressure onto Richard Cockerill’s players as he intercepted a Scott Hamilton pass to score which Adam Greendale failed to convert. The heat was securely on the Tigers but the immensely talented Youngs broke free to relieve the Black tide. The scrum again proved the stumbling block as Flood struck a vital penalty to edge further ahead.

The Leicester forwards dictated the ruck area till the end as they earned a further three points from the boots of Flood and shrink
Dragons hopes of a spectacular scalp. The region finished on the front foot, but were unable to capitalise on an eight phase play sending them home with nothing to show for their brave efforts.

Newport Gwent
Dragons: Jason Tovey (Martyn Thomas 71), Will Harries, Rhodri Gomer Davies, Tom Riley, Aled Brew, Shaun Connor (C) (Adam Greendale 59), Wayne Evans (Alex Walker 63), Hugh Gustafson (Dan Watchurst 59), Duane Goodfield (Steve Jones 59), Peter Bracken (Pat Palmer 17), Rob Sidoli, Adam Jones, Hoani MacDonald (Toby Faletau 59), Gavin Thomas (James Harris 63), Grant Webb.

Leicester Tigers: Scott Hamilton, Lote Tuqiri, Andy Forsyth, Anthony Allen, Will Hurrell (Matt Smith 51), Jeremy Staunton (Toby Flood 59), Ben Youngs (James Grindal 72), Boris Stankovich (Robbie Harris 72), George Chuter (Mefin Davies 59), Dan Cole, Geoff Parling, Ben Kay (C) (Callum Green 59), Craig Newby, Ben Pienaar, Jordan Crane.
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth Assistants: Don Helme and Robin Goodliffe
Attendance: 16,297


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