The Ospreys scored five tries after the break but still came off second best on an incredible night of LV= Cup rugby at the Bridgend Ford Brewery Field.
The hosts had been completely blown away in the first 40 as the Dragons racked up a point a minute, the youthful Ospreys pack unable to cope with an older, more physical and more experienced Dragons eight.
However, they pulled themselves together in the second half, restoring pride and putting together some decent rugby to earn themselves at least a bonus point from the defeat.
It was a dreadful start for the Ospreys, who found themselves trailing by 24 points inside the first 18 minutes.
First Geraint Rhys Jones slotted over a penalty from the 10m line, awarded against the hosts for going off their feet at the breakdown, and then the Dragons grabbed the first try of the evening, through Ross Wardle, the centre taking the scoring pass off full back Jones to go over unopposed after the visiting backs had worked a two-on-one against on their left.
The score was converted by Rhys Jones and just two minutes later the Ospreys found themselves back underneath their sticks. This time, the hosts were unable to stop a Dragons rolling maul from 10m out, Lewis Evans applying the finishing touch for a score that was again converted by Jones.
It got even worse just minutes later when the Dragons pack repeated the trick, only this time rumbling forward almost 40m with the same inevitable outcome, and again it was Evans who dotted down, and again the extras were added.
A penalty against the Ospreys pack at the scrum then allowed Jones to slot over a straightforward kick to stretch the lead to 27 points in as many minutes.
It was proving to be a very tough night at the office, and when young lock Rory Thornton was sinbinned for pulling down another ominous looking maul, the inevitable happened from the resulting penalty as the visitors went to the corner again before rumbling over the line for a fourth try in the opening half an hour. Cory Hill was the scorer, Jones converting.
The Ospreys were then grateful to Ashley Beck for a last gasp tackle on Ashton Hewitt after the Dragons won a turnover just inside the home team’s half, the winger haring upfield before being wrestled into touch.
It was only a temporary respite though, as the Dragons came straight back at the Ospreys, and it was Jonathan Evans who had the simplest of runs to the line through ineffective tackling to score. The conversion from Jones, the final kick of the opening half, took the visitors lead to an incredible 41 points.
HALF-TIME: OSPREYS 0 NG DRAGONS 41
The second half began in a similar vein as the first had been played out, with the Dragons going forward, and they thought they had rumbled over from another lineout catch and drive just a couple of minutes in. However, they were held up over the line, with the resultant scrum seeing a penalty awarded to the Ospreys, allowing them to clear.
Even when the Ospreys were eventually able to put together a positive attack, they found themselves back behind their line almost immediately, conceding a turnover on the Dragons 10m line from which they swiftly counter attacked.
Dafydd Howells did well to ankle tap Dorian Jones on the right but the defensive cover was all at sixes and sevens as the ball was swept back across field where a 3 on 1 against Aisea Natoga ended in the inevitable with Hill scoring his second try, after the officials had conferred on a possible knock-on, Jones again converting.
To their credit, the Ospreys were able to pick themselves up and within five minutes had scored two converted tries.
First it was Dirksen who cut a smart angle through the Dragons defence from a line out to score under the posts, and then, again from a throw, the forwards hammered on the line, drawing in defenders, before it was spun out wide to Howells who dived over from close range to score. Davies converted both.
As the hour approached, the Brewery Field crowd were treated to that rarest of things, a Cai Griffiths try, the prop peeling off the back of a maul and galloping over for the Ospreys third try inside eight minutes, Davies’ conversion taking the score to 21-48.
Geraint Rhys Jones then brought up the half century for the visitors with a penalty on the hour.
A crazy game of rugby then saw the Dragons reduced to 14, Ashton Hewitt taking a team yellow for persistent offending, and he was joined in the bin just two minutes later by Dorian Jones after the visitors pulled down an Ospreys maul that was destined for the line. Penalty try was the decision, converted by Davies, 66 minutes gone.
An Ospreys offside, in front of the kicker, gave the Dragons a simple shot of goal but this time Geraint Rhys Jones was off target.
With seven minutes left the Ospreys worked a lovely try from a lineout on the right, Aisea Natoga – who scored a hat-trick when the Ospreys last visited Brewery Field – coming infield to collect, scything through the defence to score his team’s fifth try of the game under the posts. Davies again added the extras.
In a contest that had had just about everything, the heavens absolutely opened in the dying minutes, and with the Dragons cleverly running down the clock there was to be no further scoring.