10:02am Wednesday 11th December 2013
By Iwan Gabe Davies
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons director of rugby Lyn Jones says his side travel to Bordeaux-Bègles “without fear” as they look to record their first victory in France for nearly seven years.
Friday’s impressive 40-24 home bonus point victory over the Top 14 side has given the region a real spring in their step and the confidence they can make the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals for only the second time.
The Dragons scored five tries at Rodney Parade last week as the visitors from the world’s most famous wine region were undone by a vintage performance from the hosts.
They will need more of that champagne rugby for tomorrow’s return showdown as they seek to make the competition's last eight for the first time since 2007.
That year they reached the semi-finals when they were beaten by eventual winners Clermont Auvergne , giving them a real scare before going down 46-29 at their own Stade Marcel-Michelin.
It was en route to making the last eight that the Dragons recorded their last triumph on Gallic soil, a 32-15 bonus point success in the pool stages in January against Bayonne at the Stade Jean Dauger.
What Jones’ men wouldn’t give for a similar score at the Stade André Moga in Bègles tomorrow night.
The Dragons were sublime in attack against them in Newport last week and sliced them open with a clinical performance that promises well for the rest of the season.
But they were under intense pressure at the scrum from a gigantic pack and will look to rectify that weakeness.
Speaking about the challenge ahead, Jones said: “I was very pleased with Friday’s performance but we are under no illusion to how challenging and difficult Bordeaux-Bègles will be to play against.
On being asked how he thought the French would react after the Dragons effectively eliminated them from the Amlin Challenge Cup last week, he replied: “I don’t know and I don’t really care – we will be focussing on our own game.
“They are strong at scrum and maul but we dominated other aspects of the game.”
On the key to winning away against the top sides, he added: “You have to be confident in playing the French and English because their leagues can stagnate, based around power and kicking.
“We are a good attacking side. There’s a kudos about French teams that they are brilliant but you’ve got to understand what they are all about – they don’t hold any fears for us but we have to be on top of our game.”
Should the Dragons pull off a stunning double this week, they would then face Bath in what could be a winner-takes-all showdown at Rodney Parade next month to determine who would make it to the quarter-finals.
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