Dragons suffer opening night defeat
Edinburgh produced a powerful second half display as ill-disciplined Dragons suffered a heavy 44-6 defeat on the opening night of the new BKT United Rugby Championship in Scotland.
A closely contested first half saw both teams look to hit early season rhythm at the DAM Health Stadium – but the second period was all about the clinical hosts.
Five tries in 20 destructive minutes saw the Scottish side pull well clear.
Dragons must now regroup before back-to-back home games with Munster and Cell C Sharks back at Rodney Parade.
Dragons had five new faces in the starting line-up with Bradley Roberts, Sean Lonsdale, JJ Hanrahan, Sio Tomkinson and Angus O’Brien – for his second debut on his 28th birthday – all included.
An early penalty for not releasing on Tomkinson, after he battled for hard yards, gave fly half Hanrahan a simple penalty that he dispatched after three minutes.
Dragons started the game on the front foot with O’Brien hacking ball forward after spilled possession in midfield and Tomkinson picking up, only for the pass wide to fail to find the hands of Lonsdale.
New boy Roberts was next to brush off tacklers, after an initial great high take from Rio Dyer, before Edinburgh were caught offside and Hanrahan nudged over a second penalty.
A sublime touch finder from O’Brien cleared an Edinburgh kick in behind with real interest as Dragons kept the hosts pinned back and contested every breakdown in an entertaining opening quarter.
A high tackle from Ross Moriarty saw the home side take a first shot at the posts, but centre Mark Bennett pushed his effort wide left of the target.
A charged down restart caused alarm for the visitors, but the alert Roberts swooped on the isolated Edinburgh man to win a crucial penalty.
The subdued home side found a spark from scrum half Ben Vallacott with a quick tap penalty splintering the Men of Gwent.
Edinburgh piled on the pressure, and it was the man who started it all in Vellacott who reached out an arm to score the opening try.
Dragons looked for a response, but Rowlands was pinged for a double movement as he barged into contact in the home 22.
The visitors were starting to fall the wrong side of referee Andrea Piardi as penalties started to escalate.
And a second home score then came after slick hands down the left released runners and Glen Young dotted down from close range.
Lloyd Fairbrother was then yellow carded after a late tackle - after already being on a warning - and Bennett knocked over three more points for a 15-6 lead at the break.
With a man advantage, Edinburgh looked to put the game to bed at the start of the second half with Darcy Graham going over after a huge driving maul drew men in.
And the wing danced over for a second just before the yellow card ran out as the home side pulled clear.
Edinburgh were starting to go through the gears with wing Damien Hoyland acrobatically diving in the left corner after a huge pass wide.
Dragons started to empty the bench with Basham bringing energy until the ball was stripped close to the home line.
Penalties continued to build and stop Dragons getting any foothold in the game with a sixth home try arriving when Kinghorn hacked a dropped pass forward and scored in the corner.
Chris Dean then finished a length of the field score after Kinghorn’s initial break in his own 22.
A late yellow card to Nick Haining made no impact as the home side ran down the final two minutes to secure maximum points on day one.
03m Hanrahan p 0-3
13m Hanrahan p 0-6
28m Vellacott t Bennett c 7-6
35m Young t 12-6
40m Bennett p 15-6
44m Graham t 20-6
50m Graham t Bennett c 27-6
54m Hoyland t 32-6
61m Kinghorn t 37-6
63m Dean t Bennett c 44-6
Edinburgh Rugby: Henry Immelman, Darcy Graham, Mark Bennett, Chris Dean, Damien Hoyland, Charlie Savala, Ben Vellacott, Boan Venter, Dave Cherry, Angus Williams, Marshall Sykes, Glen Young, Jamie Ritchie, Luke Crosbie, Viliame Mata
Replacements: Stuart McInally, Pierre Schoeman, WP Nel, Sam Skinner, Nick Haining, Henry Pyrgos, Blair Kinghorn, James Lang
Dragons RFC: Angus O’Brien (Williams 65), Rio Dyer, Sio Tomkinson, Jack Dixon, Jared Rosser (Williams 37-40), JJ Hanrahan, Rhodri Williams (Jones 62); Aki Seiuli (Reynolds 70), Bradley Roberts (Dee 55), Lloyd Fairbrother, Ben Carter, Will Rowlands (Davies 37-40), Sean Lonsdale, Ben Fry (Coleman 47-50, Basham 55), Ross Moriarty
Replacements: Elliot Dee, Josh Reynolds, Chris Coleman, Joe Davies, Taine Basham, Lewis Jones, Will Reed, Jordan Williams
Referee: Andrea Piardi (FIR, 25th league game)