Stunning Dragons secure Judgement Day victory
Brilliant Dragons finished the season in style as they stunned Scarlets with a sensational 31-14 victory at Judgement Day at Principality Stadium.
An electric start in the capital saw Dragons rattle up three tries in a breathless opening 20 minutes with Elliot Dee, Jordan Williams and Sio Tomkinson all going over.
Dai Flanagan’s men played with determination throughout the BKT United Rugby Championship encounter before Steff Hughes grabbed a late score to wrap up maximum points.
The result snapped a ten-game losing streak in the league and ensured the Men of Gwent brought the curtain down on the campaign on a real high note.
In front of a crowd of 41,139, it was Dragons who started well with a powerful driving lineout freeing up room for Rhodri Williams to stretch for the line.
The TMO ruled the scrum half had come up short, but also sinbinned Scarlets lock Vaea Fifita for a push in the face of Aaron Wainwright.
Dragons kicked the resulting penalty to the corner and powered the driving maul over with Dee scoring and Angus O’Brien adding the extras.
It got even better within three minutes as stolen lineout sparked an attack before some wonderful interplay between Rio Dyer and Jordan Williams sent the full back over.
A scrum penalty saw Dragons again apply the squeeze at the lineout before Dyer was denied an acrobatic third try of the afternoon with a foot in touch.
The reprieve, though, was short-lived for Scarlets as a penalty in front of the posts allowed the alert Tomkinson to take a quick tap and bulldoze his way over.
The West Walians needed an urgent response and hit back as they won a series of scrum penalties before scrum half Kieran Hardy burrowed in.
However, it was Dragons who remained in the ascendancy with the impressive Taine Basham, Wainwright, George Nott and Dee to the fore with strong carries.
The game was beginning to flow from end to end as Scarlets looked to get a maul going only to be penalised for obstruction before Basham produced a crucial turnover on the stroke of half-time.
Sean Lonsdale replaced Matthew Screech early in the second half while Ben Carter was the next to shine at the breakdown to win a turnover penalty.
O’Brien added three points from the tee as Scarlets were held up as they went for the line before Jordan Williams put his opposite number into touch with a big hit.
Ashton Hewitt unloaded a monster tackle of his own after a high up and under as Chris Coleman hit a major milestone as he came on for his 50th club appearance in the final quarter.
The tension continued to crank up in the final 20 minutes and Scarlets looked set for a grand finale when back row Carwyn Tuipulotu cut the lead to ten points.
Only scramble defence stopped Scarlets scoring from deep with replacement Will Reed the man to drag Steff Evans down.
Back play went up the other end with Dyer kicking over his opposite man but beaten to the loose ball.
However, there was to be a final flourish to the season in the dying seconds as Hughes burst through close to the line to secure the bonus point.
04m Dee t O’Brien c 7-0
07m J. Williams t O’Brien c 14-0
17m Tomkinson t O’Brien c 21-0
23m Hardy t Costelow c 21-7
48m O’Brien p 24-7
70m Tuipulotu t Costelow c 24-14
80m Hughes t O’Brien c 31-14
Dragons RFC: Jordan Williams (Reed 72), Rio Dyer, Sio Tomkinson, Steff Hughes, Ashton Hewitt (Owen 72), Angus O’Brien, Rhodri Williams (L. Jones 78); Rhodri Jones (Evans 64), Elliot Dee (Roberts 52), Lloyd Fairbrother (Coleman 61), Ben Carter, Matthew Screech (Lonsdale 44), George Nott, Taine Basham (Taylor 78), Aaron Wainwright
Replacements: Bradley Roberts, Rob Evans, Chris Coleman, Huw Taylor, Sean Lonsdale, Lewis Jones, Will Reed, Aneurin Owen
Scarlets: Tom Rogers; Steff Evans, Joe Roberts, Johnny Williams, Ryan Conbeer; Sam Costelow Kieran Hardy; Kemsley Mathias, Ken Owens, Javan Sebastian, Vaea Fifita, Morgan Jones, Iwan Shenton, Josh Macleod, Carwyn Tuipulotu.
Replacements: Daf Hughes, Wyn Jones, Sam Wainwright, Iestyn Rees, Shaun Evans, Gareth Davies, Dan Jones, Johnny McNicholl.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (SARU, 17th competition game)