Dragons slip to defeat in Swansea
Dragons search for an away win in the BKT United Rugby Championship continued as they slipped to a disappointing 37-18 derby defeat at Ospreys.
A poor first half at Swansea.com Stadium allowed Ospreys to take control of the Round 16 clash and leave Dai Flanagan’s men with a mountain to climb.
That only grew bigger when Sio Tomkinson was red carded minutes into the second half.
Jordan Williams grabbed a superb solo score and Dragons also secured a late penalty try, but the home side took full advantage of the extra man to wrap up maximum points.
Flanagan made eight changes for the league encounter, with Ollie Griffiths among those to return while Aaron Wainwright and Bradley Roberts were among the replacements.
But it was the home side that struck first as relentless pressure close to the line saw home captain Nicky Smith drive over. Jack Walsh added the extras.
Dragons looked to respond as Jordan Williams picked off a looping wide pass and Steff Hughes booted clear, only for Owen Watkin to benefit from a kind bounce as the ball just ran dead.
The home side were proving a real menace at the breakdown as they twice turned over ball with big jackals as Dragons saw any promising momentum halted.
Young fly halves Walsh and Reed exchanged penalties at the midpoint of the half as Ospreys led 10-3, with the majority of possession and territory in their favour.
Dragons were losing the scrum battle early on, as referee Peyper penalised the visitors once again and allowed Ospreys to kick deep into the 22.
Harri Keddie gobbled up a loose lineout but a penalty, for a late hit on Walsh, allowed the fly half to edge Ospreys further ahead.
Ross Moriarty burst down the middle with real pace and determination, but an offload just failed to find the hands of the supporting Sio Tomkinson on his shoulder.
And seconds later the TMO was called in to look at a charge from Moriarty on Walsh and the Dragon was duly yellow carded.
Ospreys turned to the driving maul to use the man advantage and hooker Sam Parry should have been to be the man to benefit, only to lose control as he went to touch down.
Dragons were dealt a double blow on the stroke of half-time as Griffiths saw his much anticipated return end – replaced by Aaron Wainwright - before Ospreys grabbed a decisive second try.
A training ground move down the short side from a lineout splintered the visiting defence and Lydiate swatted off tacklers attempt to slide in the corner.
A monster penalty kick from Angus O’Brien – from inside his own half – in first half stoppage time reduced the lead to 18-6, but there was little doubt which team was in the ascendancy and in control.
Moriarty returned at the start of the second half, but the momentum stayed with the hosts as Morgan Morris found himself in space on the left and he finished well for a third score.
It went from bad to worse as the TMO stepped in and Tomkinson red carded for a high hit on Walsh in the build-up.
A scrum penalty allowed Reed to kick to the corner, but a penalty for blocking at the set piece saw any chance snuffed out immediately.
Ospreys wrapped up the bonus point with Iestyn Hopkins sliding in as they sucked in visiting defenders before going wide at pace.
An opportunistic score from Jordan Williams, as the wing neatly kicked ahead and collected the bounce to touch down, saw the visitors land a defiant shot back.
But Ospreys were relentless as Kieran Williams finished off a sweep counter to extend the lead to 37-11.
Lock Huw Taylor came on for his 50th appearance for Dragons on the hour.
Replacement Dewi Lake was yellow carded for swinging arm into a tackle on Roberts with 13 minutes left.
Dragons were denied a second score ten minutes from time, with Coleman adjudged to have been held up after a TMO consultation.
However, the visitors did get another with referee Peyper awarding a penalty try, after Gareth Thomas infringed as a driving maul surged to the line.
07m Smith t Walsh c 7-0
18m Walsh p 10-0
22m Reed p 10-3
29m Walsh p 13-3
37m Lydiate t 18-3
40m O’Brien p 18-6
43m Morris t Scully c 25-6
51m Hopkins t 30-6
54m J. Williams t 30-11
57m K. Williams t Scully c 37-11
76m Penalty t 37-18
Ospreys: Iestyn Hopkins, Luke Morgan, Owen Watkin, Keiran Williams, George North, Jack Walsh, Reuben Morgan-Williams, Nicky Smith, Sam Parry, Tom Botha, Huw Sutton, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Ethan Roots, Morgan Morris
Replacements: Dewi Lake, Gareth Thomas, Ben Warren, Rhys Davies, Harri Deaves, Matthew Aubrey, Luke Scully, Michael Collins
Dragons: Angus O’Brien, Jordan Williams (Clark 65), Sio Tomkinson, Steff Hughes, Ashton Hewitt, Will Reed, Rhodri Williams (L. Jones 60); Rhodri Jones (Seiuli 48), Elliot Dee (Roberts 53), Lloyd Fairbrother (Coleman 45), Sean Lonsdale, George Nott (Taylor 61), Ross Moriarty, Harrison Keddie (Basham 53), Ollie Griffiths (Wainwright 37)
Replacements: Bradley Roberts, Aki Seiuli, Chris Coleman, Huw Taylor, Aaron Wainwright, Taine Basham, Lewis Jones, Max Clark
Referee: Jaco Peyper (SARU, 16th league game)