Dragons defeated in final league game
Dragons wrapped up the league season with a battling 40-21 defeat to play-off chasing Scarlets in an entertaining Guinness PRO14 encounter played behind closed doors at Rodney Parade.
Wing Jared Rosser and back row Taine Basham – with his ninth of an eye-catching league and European campaign season - scored first half tries in an end-to-end contest.
Rosser also saw a second half try cruelly ruled out by the TMO and Scarlets – with hopes of a semi-final place – pulled clear in the final quarter.
Centre Adam Warren struck late for the home side who can look forward to a big European quarter-final with English giants Bristol Bears next month.
Boss Dean Ryan have vowed to give more opportunities before that last eight showdown in Europe and was true to his word as he made ten changes for the game back on home soil.
Young Prop Chris Coleman was given his first Guinness PRO14 start while Wales international Aaron Wainwright made his 50th appearance for the region.
In a fast and frenetic opening, looshead Josh Reynolds broke past a tackle to burst into the 22 after the lively Nick Tompkins stripped the ball in the tackle to spark a counter.
Basham gobbled up a loose lineout before Warren was almost the beneficiary of a loose pass in midfield, but he just failed to cling on to what would have been a walk-in intercept score.
Scarlets always looked powerful up front and in the set piece with a number of Wales internationals pacing down against a toung Dragons pack.
Twice the visitors turned down kickable penalties to go for the corner in the opening ten minutes to signal their intent, but it was the home side who held firm and instead struck the opening blow.
A neat grubber from Davies found the marauding Tompkins who burst into open space before Matthew Screech and Coleman took the ball on.
A penalty was eventually secured at the breakdown and Davies slotted the three Back came Scarlets and, after a Jake Ball burst was pulled back for forward pass, there was no stopping Samson Lee who dived over from close range. Fly half Dan Jones added the extras.
The home side went back ahead at the midpoint of the half as Will Talbot-Davies and Ashton Hewitt combined to break down the left flank.
The ball was worked back right and an overlap was duly exploited with Rosser darting in and Davies converting for a 10-7 lead.
The visitors, though, continued to look strong in the set piece and from a big rolling maul the ball was popped into the waiting hands of wing Steff Evans to scoot over.
More ominous grunt from the Scarlets pack saw James Davies shunted over after a powerful driving lineout for a 19-10 lead.
However, it was credit to Dragons that they refused to roll over and on the stroke of half-time two monster carries from Screech were rewarded as Basham bundled over.
Dragons were reduced to 14 men at the start of the second half, with back row Harrison Keddie sent to the sin.
Scarlets looked to immediately captalise but had a try ruled out by the TMO as Sione Kalamafoni was adjudged to have illegally picked up and dived over.
Dragons rallied and mounted a series of attacks of their own as they did well to hold Scarlets out while being a man down.
It eventually took a moment of magic to unlock the home defence as Dan Jones kicked in low behind and Johnny McNicholl scooped up to score.
Dragons though they had landed another blow on the hour when a loose attack from Scarlets saw the ball find Rosser who showed his raw pace to race over Evans and score from range.
Celebrations, though, were cut short by the TMO ruling it out and visiting playmaker Jones rubbed salt in the wound with a three-pointer to stretch the lead.
Scarlets pulled away in the final 20 minutes as replacement Tom Rogers benefitted from a cross field kick before Dane Blacker also came off the bench to finish a slick backs move.
However, it was the home side who had the final word as Warren dived over in the corner for late consolation to end the season.
13m Davies p 3-0
19m Lee t Jones c 3-7
23m Rosser t Davies c 10-7
27m Evans t Jones c 10-14
32m Davies t 10-19
40m Basham t 15-19
56m McNicholl t Jones c 15-26
61m Jones p 15-29
66m Rogers t 15-34
71m Blacker t Jones c 15-41
78m Warren t 20-41
Dragons: Will Talbot-Davies, Jared Rosser, Adam Warren, Nick Tompkins (Dixon 61), Ashton Hewitt, Sam Davies (Robson 71), Rhodri Williams (Baldwin 67); Josh Reynolds (Maguire 53), Elliot Dee (Shipp 61), Chris Coleman (Brown 40), Max Williams (Maksymiw 53), Matthew Screech, Aaron Wainwright, Taine Basham (Taylor 65), Harrison Keddie
Replacements: Ellis Shipp, Conor Maguire, Leon Brown, Joe Maksymiw, Huw Taylor, Luke Baldwin, Arwel Robson, Jack Dixon
Scarlets: Angus O’Brien; Johnny McNicholl (Rogers 63), Steff Hughes, Johnny Williams (Asquith 66), Steff Evans; Dan Jones, Kieran Hardy (Blacker 67); Wyn Jones (Price 50), Ken Owens (Elias 50), Samson Lee (Sebastian 53 (Ball 65)), Jake Ball, Lewis Rawlins, Ed Kennedy, James Davies (Macleod 53), Sione Kalamafoni
Replacements: Ryan Elias, Phil Price, Javan Sebastian, Josh Helps, Josh Macleod, Dane Blacker, Paul Asquith, Tom Rogers
Referee: Craig Evans (WRU)