Cordero treble downs Dragons
Pumas ace Santiago Cordero grabbed a hat-trick of tries as spirited Dragons were defeated by Bordeaux-Begles in the Heineken Champions Cup at Stade Chaban-Delmas in France.
Dean Ryan’s men went into the Round 2 clash as huge underdogs with a raft of senior players absent because of injury and coronavirus.
But a much-changed side showed huge desire and work-rate to frustrate the illustrious home side for long periods.
Bordeaux topped the Top14 last season and the power-packed French giants were made to work hard for a half-time lead, courtesy of tries from Mahamadou Diaby, Cordero and Maxime Lamothe.
A three-try blitz, though, either side of the break sent the French side clear and with Argentina international Cordero in red-hot form they pulled away.
Despite the score line, Ryan will take plenty from a battling performance in adversity and also seeing youngsters Aneurin Owen and Evan Lloyd make senior debuts.
Dragons went into the game with a number of absentees and were dealt another blow before kick-off when playmaker Sam Davies was ruled out.
Leading appearance maker Lewis Evans took the captaincy and Will Talbot-Davies was called into full back, with Josh Lewis switching to fly half.
Bordeaux looked to impose early grunt as the giant home forwards busily went about their work as they adopted a driving game to test the Dragons defence.
However, it was guile that opened the scoring as a quick tap penalty from scrum half Maxime Lucu opened up the room for the marauding Diaby to score out wide.
Dragons hit straight back with Lewis slotting a penalty from long range after the hosts strayed offside.
Ryan’s men were showing real hunger for the fight all over the field with some big carries and thunderous tackles to rock back the huge Bordeaux pack.
Tavis Knoyle looked to unlock the home defence with a low chip into space before Jared Rosser was forced off before the half hour, with Lloyd coming on for his debut.
The home pack looked to shove over another five-mere lineout before a series of crushing drives pummelled the line and drew men in before the ball was spun wide and wing Cordero went over.
Dragons were looking to land some body-blows of their own, Rio Dyer bursting into space before Talbot-Davies raced into another gap and the supporting Jack Dixon was narrowly bundled into touch.
Three tries in four minutes either side of the break send Bordeaux clear. Vadsium Cobilas and Cameron Woki combined to send Lamothe in by the corner flag before, just 16 seconds after the restart, they bagged the bonus try with Woki racing up the right flank and feeding Cordero.
Cordero set-up a fifth as he stepped past men and fed Diaby who was well tackled by Taylor, only for the loose ball to fall kindly to Jalibert who had a simple run-in under the posts.
Aneurin Owen came on for his debut - becoming the 300th Dragon for the region in the process – as Tompkins was moved out onto the wing.
The on-loan Saracens man duly showed his finishing skill with a stunning effort out wide to record his first score for Dragons.
But there was no stopping Cordero who secured his hat-trick courtesy of more slick handling before Ben Lam had the final word seven minutes from time.
08m Diaby t Jalibert c 7-0
12m Lewis p 7-3
34m Cordero t 12-3
40m Lamothe t Jailbert c 19-3
41m Cordero t Jalibert c 26-3
44m Jalibert t Jalibert c 33-3
62m Cordero t Jalibert c 40-3
70m Tompkins t 40-8
73m Lam t Botica c 47-8
Bordeaux-Begles: Romaim Buros, Santaigo Cordero, Yoram Falatea-Moefana, Remi Lamerat, Ben Lam, Matthieu Jalibert, Mxime Lucu; Thierry Paiva, Maxime Lamothe, Vadim Cobilas, Kane Douglas, Cyril Cazeaux, Cameron Woki, Mahamadou Diaby, Scott Higginbottom
Replacements: Joseph Dweba, Zakaria El Fakir, Ben Tameifuna, Alexandre Flanquart, Marco Tauleigne, Jules Gimbert, Ben Botica, Pablo Uberti
Dragons: Will Talbot-Davies (Owen 52); Jared Rosser (Lloyd 29), Nick Tompkins, Jack Dixon, Rio Dyer, Josh Lewis, Tavis Knoyle (Williams 60); Brok Harris (Maguire 72), Elliot Dee (Hibbard 60), Lloyd Fairbrother (Jarvis 70), Joe Davies (Carter 60), Joe Maksymiw, Huw Taylor, Taine Basham (Benjamin 71), Lewis Evans
Replacements: Richard Hibbard, Conor Maguire, Aaron Jarvis, Ben Carter, James Benjamin, Rhodri Williams, Aneurin Owen, Evan Lloyd
Referee: Christophe Ridley (Eng)