Moriarty strikes in Benetton draw


Back row Ross Moriarty marked his comeback with a try as 14-man Dragons battled to a 13-13 draw with Benetton at a drizzly Rodney Parade.

The Italians swept into a 10-0 lead in a keenly contested United Rugby Championship clash before Wales international Moriarty struck to spark a second half comeback.

A tense final ten minutes saw both teams miss drop goals before replacement Elliot Dee was sent off in the closing minute.

Benetton, though, saw the resulting penalty drop short as both teams had to settle for two points in Newport.

The sides had met only a fortnight earlier in the EPCR Challenge Cup, when Benetton triumphed 23-9 on home soil.

The Men from Gwent went about reversing that result from the off with destructive back row Moriarty immediately in the thick of the action.

The Wales ace launched himself into countless tackles and offered himself up a willing runner, while powerful driving runs from Harrison Keddie and Joe Davies forced Benetton onto the back foot in the opening ten minutes.

However, it was the Italians who duly went up the other end and opened the scoring after a scrappy home spell, with fly half Tomas Albornoz knocking over a penalty.

Jonah Holmes unloaded a huge tackle on his opposite number, after a high kick from Gonzalo Bertranou, to try and kickstart the hosts, but penalties were adding up and allowing Benetton to escape.

After an opening 20 minutes that was slowly beset by stoppages and scrum resets, Benetton twice turned down kickable penalties to go to the corner.

And, at the second time of asking, the visiting pack drove over with hooker Corniel Els touching down. Albornoz added the extras for a 10-0 lead.

Rocked by the early burst, Dragons looked to find a spark with wing Jordan Olowofela rattling down the left flank and kicking into space to force Benetton to scramble back.

However, the visitors repeatedly held firm until Sam Davies got the home side on the board with the last kick of the half with a sweety struck long range penalty.

A Benetton mistake at the start of the second half, as they carelessly spilled ball under their own posts looking to run from deep, gave the home side an immediate opportunity.

And Moriarty led by example as he took a quick tap penalty and, with support from back row partners Keddie and Ollie Grifiths, blasted his way past tackles and over the line to level the scores.

Visiting playmaker Albornoz edged Benetton back ahead with a penalty while Davies turned down a kick of his own and instead popped the ball to the corner.

Possession, though, was lost at the lineout as the chance to hit back was gone, as hooker replacement Dee and scrum half Rhodri Williams both made welcome returns.

A big scrum gave Dragons another platform to launch an attack as the game entered the final quarter still on a knife-edge.

Big carries by Aki Seiuli and Dee forced Benetton backwards and the resulting penalty from Davies levelled it up with 18 minutes remaining.

Josh Lewis darted down the right but ball was spilled in contact while Sam Davies - on his 50th appearance for Dragons - injected pace as he took a quick lineout and then chased down his own high kick to force an error.

His clever cross-field kick then found Olowofela but his offload to full back Lewis was lost forward in contact.

There was nothing between the teams entering the final ten minutes as Dragons looked to pin the Italians back by kicking to the corners.

Holmes and Huw Taylor again drove the ball up to the shadow of the visiting posts, but the penalty went against the home side for sealing off and the chance was gone.

Davies dropped in the pocket but saw a drop goal from 40 metres out slide agonisingly wide on 76 minutes.

A dramatic finale saw Albornoz screw a drop goal of his own low and away before Dee was red carded for contact to the head as he cleared out.

Albornoz, though, could not take the chance to take the points as his penalty pulled up short.


13m Albornoz p 0-3

23m Els t Albornoz c 0-10

40m Davies p 3-10

45m Moriarty t Davies c 10-10

47m Albornoz p 10-13

62m Davies p 13-13

Dragons: Josh Lewis, Jonah Holmes, Adam Warren, Aneurin Owen, Jordan Olowofela, Sam Davies, Gonzalo Bertranou (Williams 60); Aki Seiuli (Reynolds 71), Taylor Davies (Dee 50), Chris Coleman (Doge 68), Joe Davies, Joe Maksymiw, Harrison Keddie, Ollie Griffiths, Ross Moriarty (Taylor 68)

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Josh Reynolds, Mesake Doge, Huw Taylor, Dan Baker, Rhodri Williams, Jared Rosser, Ioan Davies

Benetton: Giacomo Da Re, Lorenzo Pani, Filippo Drago, Joaquin Riera, Tommaso Benvenuti, Tomas Albornoz, Dewaldt Duvenage; Thomas Gallo, Corniel Els, Nahuel Tetaz, Irné Herbst, Carl Wegner, Matteo Meggiato, Marco Lazzaroni, Lorenzo Cannone 

Replacements: Hame Faiva, Cherif Traore, Filippo Alongi, Nicola Piantella, Braam Steyn, Alessandro Garbisi, Tommy Bell, Ratuva Tavuyara

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)

Attendance: 3,571

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