Newport Gwent Dragons 28 Ospreys 20

The Dragons defeated the Ospreys for the second time in two months on a disappointing night at Rodney Parade.

The welcome was as warm as Ospreys' Forwards Coach Jonathan Humphreys had predicted in his pre-match media interviews, with the Dragons supporters generating a typically raucous atmosphere as the teams took to the field.

Early fireworks had been predicted, and it didn't take long for the two packs to collide, and when the Ospreys were penalised for going off their feet at the ruck with just a minute on the clock, Jason Tovey gave the Dragons a perfect start.

It was a fast and frantic opening, and with the early lead the Dragons tails were up. They extended their lead with seven minutes on the clock, after a bulldozing run from prop Hugh Gustafson, who brushed aside Lee Byrne's challenge before his progress was halted by Jerry Collins. As the ball was recycled Tovey put in a lovely cross kick to the right hand corner, and Will Harries won the race to touch down, TMO Tony Rowlands confirming the try. Tovey missed the conversion, but his penalty a couple of minutes later made it 11-0.

The Ospreys hadn't got into their rhythm yet, but got themselves on the scoreboard through the boot of Dan Biggar after the Dragons were penalised for not rolling away.

A typical derby match, played at pace, the hosts were dominating territory and possession without being able to create any real openings thanks to the Ospreys resolute defence. Slowly though, the Ospreys were able to work their way up the field, and after enjoying a prolonged spell camped on the Dragons line, they were finally able to breach the home defence. They showed patience to create the opening, going through a number of pick and goes with both Ryan Jones and Jerry Collins almost going over. They looked to have lost the chance when Tommy Bowe slipped as he received a pass out wide but Mike Phillips tidied up, feeding Hook, who went over in the corner, Biggar converting to narrow the gap to just a point with seven minutes left on the clock in the first period.

With half-time approaching, Tovey's third successful penalty of the night put the Dragons four points clear, but the Ospreys responded brightly from the restart, a flowing move seeing both Byrne and Jonathan Thomas being hauled down close to the line before the Dragons were penalised for offside. Surprisingly, the Ospreys opted for a scrum rather than taking what would have been a reasonably simple three points. After having to reset the scrum on five separate occasions, referee Nigel Owens then gave the front rows a stern talking to, and seemed set to award a penalty try the next time it went down. However, on this occasion the ball squirmed out from the side of the scrum and the Dragons were able to clear.

It was to prove costly, as within seconds, the hosts had scored their second try of the game. Gavin Thomas and Aled Brew both carried well, but Matthew Watkins still had a lot to do when he received the ball almost on halfway. However, a couple of sidesteps later he was over, Tovey adding the extras to make it 21-10 at the interval.


The Dragons were on the offensive again in the opening minutes of the second period, but in general, it was a scrappy period of play with both sides turning over possession regularly, and quite often unforced, as the crowd pounced on every mistake by an Osprey and urged their team forward.

It was developing into a real war of attrition, with each break in play seeing several individuals needing attention from the medical teams, and the Ospreys made their first change on the 50 minute mark, Richard Hibbard replacing Huw Bennett. The first score of the half came shortly after, Biggar slotting over from in front of the posts following a tremendous kick and chase by Byrne to put the Dragons under pressure.

The Dragons came straight back at the Ospreys, putting them under intense pressure, and they were able to extend their lead following good work by Martyn Thomas, which resulted in Brew being put clear to score under the posts leaving a simple concersion for Tovey.

The response from the Ospreys saw Sonny Parker and Ian Gough introduced to the action in place of Biggar and Ian Evans, with Hook moving to fly-half.

The Ospreys stepped up a gear as they looked for a way back into the game, with one particular passage of play seeing them go through numerous phases of play as they swept back and forth across the full width of the pitch. Hook seemed to have a found a way through only to be halted six metres short, and when Thomas knocked on as he looked to pick up at the ensuing ruck the Dragons were able to clear their lines from the scrum. The Dragons 'in your face' defence meant that there was no room for the Ospreys, and with the clock ticking down more and more errors were creeping in as the attacking play became more desperate, Phillips and Hook both knocking on in good positions.

The pressure from the Ospreys was relentless in the closing minutes as they looked to cut the deficit and claim a bonus point, and although Nikki Walker managed to set up Andrew Bishop for a late try, converted by Hook, they had left themselves with too much work to do and headed home empty handed.