Dragons stroll to victory in Cup opener
DRAGONS 50 MOGLIANO 8
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons enjoyed an Amlin Challenge Cup loosener at Rodney Parade with a seven-try drubbing of Mogliano.
As expected the region bagged their fourth home win on the spin by beating the Italian minnows in an underwhelming European opener.
The bonus point was in the bag after half an hour and it would have been really messy if the Dragons had found second gear.
It was the sort of mismatch that must have brought memories flooding back of summer hammerings against invitational teams of sheep farmers from Goollogong for Lions number eight Toby Faletau.
Mogliano gave it their all – and full-back Nicolo Fadalti was a real livewire – but they are probably more suited to playing British and Irish (and Italian) Cup rugby against Cross Keys at Pandy Park than Amlin Challenge Cup fixtures against the Dragons, Bath and Bordeaux Begles.
A dry night and part-time opposition meant it was prudent to check the region’s records for their biggest win and the most tries and points scored in one game – 66-10, 10 and 66 all against Bucharest Wolves in December, 2006.
Well, the champagne must stay on ice in the Romanian capital after the Italians limited the damage, aided by some lacklustre Dragons attack and generous refereeing.
The clash certainly didn’t have the qualification nerves that were on display at Ravenhill where Ulster and Leicester slugged it out in the Heineken Cup or Wembley as England tried to edge towards the World Cup in Brazil.
The Dragons had no margin for error – 10 points from the two games against Mogliano is essential if they are to finish above Bath and Bordeaux Begles – but it was clear from the off that the region would bag their first bonus.
It was a case of getting the clash out of the way and picking up five points but no injuries ahead of next Saturday’s key clash against Bath at the Rec.
To that end the prime cliché from the coaching manual was appropriate – places are up for grabs boys.
Plenty of players were out to impress, notably young back row forward Ieuan Jones who has found his path to the XV blocked by the sizeable figures of Toby Faletau and Netani Talei.
He did his chances no harm with a typically forthright performance while Ross Wardle looked good in midfield, teenage hooker Elliot Dee made an accomplished debut and fly-half Kris Burton kicked superbly in windy conditions and was generally solid.
But such performances must always be seen in the context of the opposition.
The Dragons showed respect to Mogliano by going for goal with a third-minute penalty, former Italy fly-half bisecting his compatriots’ posts.
That was swiftly followed by centre Ross Wardle going over for a try that looked dazzling but owed as much to abysmal defence as it did lovely footwork.
That was followed by 10 minutes of frustrating rugby as the Dragons got on the wrong side of referee David Wilkinson.
Patience was to be a virtue and it was soon 24-0 thanks to well-worked tries from lineouts for Argentina tighthead Francisco Chaparro (his first for the region) and scrum-half Jonathan Evans.
With Burton kicking superbly the scoreboard was ticking along nicely but Mogliano managed to match their total of three points from last year’s fixtures when full-back Fadalti knocked over a penalty.
The ‘fightback’ was quickly nipped in the bud, however, when Will Harries was put over by his fellow winger Tom Prydie after a quick tap by Jonathan Evans.
If the Dragons had hit their straps then it would have been more than 31-3 at half-time and they continued to splutter in the opening exchanges of the second half.
Both sides suffered yellow cards – Nic Cudd for the Dragons, Enrico Endrizzi for Mogliano – and it became a frustrating, stop-start affair.
Eventually more tries came, Harries finishing in the right corner, Ieuan Jones going over from a pushover try... and then one for Mogliano when centre Tommaso Boni exploited a huge overlap.
That score – more than the Italians managed in two games last term – would have frustrated the coaching team but at least the hosts had the final say when centre Adam Hughes gathered Burton’s neat chip.
Job done, now for Bath at the Rec.
Dragons: H Amos, W Harries, A Hughes, R Wardle (L Robling 65), T Prydie, K Burton, J Evans (W Evans 65), O Evans (P Price 54), S Parry (E Dee 24), F Chaparro (D Way 60), M Screech, R Sidoli (A Jones 60), I Jones, N Cudd (N Talei 51), T Faletau.
Scorers: tries – R Wardle, F Chaparro, J Evans, W Harries (2), I Jones, A Hughes; conversions – K Burton (6); penalty – K Burton
Mogliano: N Fadalti (M Cornwell 54), A Zorzi, G Benvenuti (E Ceccato 49), T Boni, F Guarducci, E Padovani, E Endrizzi, A Costa Repetto, O Gega (I Gianesini 60), A Ceglie (M Ravalle 40), F Maso (M Lazzaroni 62), J Bocchi, M Swanepoel, A Ceccato (captain), T Halvorsen.
Replacements: I Gianesini, S Ferrari, M Ravelle, M Lazzaroni, A Trotta,A Giabardo, M Cornwell, E Ceccato.
Scorers: try – T Boni; penalty – N Fadalti
Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland)
Argus star man: Ross Wardle
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