Superb Dragons crush Zebre
Ruthless Dragons produced a stunning display of attacking rugby as they swept past Zebre Parma in bonus point fashion in the BKT United Rugby Championship at Rodney Parade.
First half tries from Rhodri Williams and David Richards – his first senior score – plus the boot of Sam Davies saw the Men of Gwent surge into a commanding lead.
There was no let-up in the second half as Steff Hughes, Angus O’Brien and Richards all went over as the home side just fell short of a record league win.
Dragons have now won three of the last four matches at Rodney Parade and wrapped up successive wins in the URC for the first time since April 2021.
The home side made eight changes for the clash with Wales internationals away, with Max Clark and David Richards both given starts at home.
A bright and high tempo start from Dragons saw Clark free his hands to release Rosser while Aki Seiuli, Ross Moriarty and Elliot Dee all thundered into contact to force a penalty that Sam Davies slotted.
Davies produced a sublime flat pass in traffic to free O’Brien before the opening try as Seiuli stole ball at the breakdown and fed Moriarty who drew men and fed Rhodri Williams to cut back and score.
Great maul defence by Joe Davies disrupted Zebre as they looked to work field position before Sam Davies slotted another three points after an infringement on the floor.
A beautiful cross field kick from Davies almost picked out the onrushing Rosser before two kicks to the corner looked like creating a maul try, but it was chalked off by the TMO for obstruction.
Spilled ball then saw Dragons hack clear in midfield and David Richards win the foot race to touch down for his first senior score and a 20-0 lead after half an hour.
More swift attacking play saw Clark kick in behind and force visiting full back Richard Kriel to hack into touch.
Davies added three more before Zebre kept the ball alive to score a well worked effort, with lock Andrea Zambonin going over for a converted try. Davies added one more penalty for a 26-7 half-time lead.
Patient play at the start of the second half was rewarded as Aaron Wainwright burst through and fed the supporting Hughes on his shoulder for a third home try.
Gonzalo Bertranou, before joining up with Argentina, Chris Coleman and Ben Fry were introduced as the home side looked to continue to play at real pace.
The bonus point was wrapped up just before the hour as slick hands and a burst from Rosser fed O’Brien to burst over for a 40-7 lead.
The game was being played totally in the Zebre half as hungry Dragons hunted more points.
The fifth try was a stunner as Dragons kept the ball alive and went through the hands before Richards dived acrobatically in the corner.
Pressure continued to build with a kick in behind by Davies just evading Rosser while Iacopo Bianchi was yellow carded.
A frantic finale saw Dragons push for another score to take them past the half century, but credit to Zebre who battled to the final whistle and held out in thr final ten minutes.
05m Davies p 3-0
09m Williams t Davies c 10-0
17m Davies p 13-0
28m Richards t Davies c 20-0
32m Davies p 23-0
33m Zambonin t Eden c 23-7
39m Davies p 26-7
47m Hughes t Davies c 33-7
58m O’Brien t Davies c 40-7
66m Richards t Davies c 47-7
Dragons RFC: Angus O’Brien, David Richards (Clark 67), Steff Hughes, Max Clark (Owen 58), Jared Rosser (Hanrahan 75), Sam Davies, Rhodri Williams (Bertranou 51), Aki Seiuli (Evans 67), Elliot Dee (Benjamin 71), Lloyd Fairbrother (Coleman 57), Joe Davies, Sean Lonsdale, Aaron Wainwright (Taylor 64), Harrison Keddie, Ross Moriarty (Fry 53)
Replacements: James Benjamin, Rob Evans, Chris Coleman, Huw Taylor, Ben Fry, Gonzalo Bertranou, JJ Hanrahan, Aneurin Owen
Zebre Parma: Richard Kriel, Latu Latunipulu, Tommaso Boni, Damiano Mazza, Jacopo Trulla, Tiff Eden, Chris Cook, Juan Pitinari, Jacques Du Toit, Matteo Nocera, Andrea Zambonin, Leonard Krumov, Davide Ruggeri, Iacopo Bianchi, Taina Fox-Matamua
Replacements: Marco Manfredi, Alessio Sanavia, Muhamed Hasa, Jan Uys, Giacomo Ferrari, Ratko Jelic, Geronimo Prisciantelli, Lorenzo Pani
Referee: Ben Blain (SRU, 25th league game)