Heat, Light And Sparks as The Dragons Finally Breath Fire

There was heat and light and a sting in the tail for the Dragons as they finally got a home win after 12 months of trying at the weekend.

The heat came with a feisty derby against the Ospreys in which Mat Protheroe was sent off for a dangerous tackle.

The light was the end-of-the-tunnel variety for Dragons fans who hadn’t seen a home win at Rodney Parade for over a year before this notable 20-5 victory in the United Rugby Championship (URC).

The sting in the tail could well come if the Dragons are hit with a disciplinary charge after their head of performance Dan Baugh was involved in a row with referee Ben Whitehouse.

Dragons head coach Dai Flanagan has urged his team to keep their winning form when they travel to South Africa.

With his team due to fly south and take on the Sharks in Durban and Lions in Johannesburg, Flanagan said: “We have always looked forward to South Africa with the good weather and the fast tracks, and we can look forward to it even more now.

“If we can reproduce the attacking performance that we did against the Ospreys, with a bit more accuracy, then we can score points.

“It’s an opportunity for us to go out there and go after teams.

“I asked the group to take the shackles off this week because we looked like we were playing within ourselves.

“I told them to ignore results. Let everyone else talk about that. We had a great meeting with the leadership group and players about the process and I was proud of that tonight.

“Winning is a habit and so is losing. The boys wanted to express themselves and get a good result.”

The Ospreys were left to rue two moments of stupidity from their wings.

First, left wing Protheroe was red carded for a head high tackle on Dragons outside half Will Reed, then fellow wing Luke Morgan was yellow carded for a tip tackle on opposite number Rio Dyer.

In contrast, Dragons wing Rio Dyer targeted the lower half of the body with his tackles, and his pace caused constant problems for the visitors, scoring one try and creating what should have been another.

The Dragons’ other try came from hooker Bradley Roberts, while Protheroe crossed for the Ospreys and Cai Evans kicked 10 points for the hosts.

Ospreys head coach Toby Booth said: “It was a really difficult evening. We started well and scored first but it unravelled pretty quickly after that.

“We have no qualms about the red card. You have to be in control and protect the catcher.”

The row between Canadian Baugh and Whitehouse came when the Dragons’ former Cardiff star was on the field handing out drinks bottles to his players.

Whitehouse took objection to Baugh’s shouting at the official and the confrontation escalated when Baugh put his hand on the referee’s shoulder as Whitehouse turned to walk away.

Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel may need a shoulder, too – to cry on.

His team were hammered 54-5 away at mighty Leinster where the home side emphasised their superiority by scoring eight tries to one.

“There are lessons to be learned for our boys,” said Peel.

“We made some changes, gave boys some opportunities. We have players at home and players injured so it is good for these boys to experience this.

“We also need to understand we need to close the gap. The gap is too much at the minute. We keep saying we will get better but it is going to take time and patience.

“But I thought Carwyn Tuipulotu was excellent. He carried hard, offered himself a lot, he is working hard and is getting better every week. That is important.”

Cardiff should have been celebrating a win along with the Dragons, but they blew a winning position out in Italy against Zebre.

Leading 22-15, Cardiff conceded a try in added time and the Arms Park outfit have still only won one game out of five this season.

Cardiff head coach Matt Sherratt conceded: “I am very disappointed with how the game finished, although I am probably more disappointed with the first half.

“It sounds like a bit of a broken record but it’s fine margins. We can talk about the last five minutes where they were camped on our line, but it was probably our first-half performance which caused that result.”

The final word should go to the final curtain-call for Alun Wyn Jones, who played his last game of professional rugby before his retirement.

The 38-year-old ended his 19-year career with his final game for Toulon and went out on a winning note with a 30-27 victory at Clermont Auvergne.