Connacht 14 Dragons 11
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons were deprived of their first back-to-back away league wins in nearly two years after losing at the death to struggling Connacht in Galway.
The Gwent region had looked to bounce back after their heavy 32-13 defeat away defeat in Bordeaux-Bègles last week in the Amlin Challenge Cup.
And they had arrived at the Sportground confident of building on their impressive 23-8 victory over Glasgow at Scotstoun in the RaboDirect PRO12 at the end of November.
But they came unstuck after a 74th minute Fionn Carr try and a last minute drop goal by Dan Parks.
Lyn Jones’ men started well at the Sportsground and led 8-3 at half-time, full-back Dan Evans getting a try and outside-half Jason Tovey kicking a penalty.
Australia-born ex-Scotland No 10 Parks slotted one over for Connacht in the opening 40 minutes in a match played in atrocious conditions.
The Connacht fly-half was on target for the hosts early in the second half with another penalty before it was cancelled out by Tovey’s 49th minute effort.
The Dragons suffered a big blow just over ten minutes later when referee Alain Rolland sent prop Owen Evans to the sin bin for an off the ball tackle.
The visitors coped well when reduced to 14 men, not conceding a point while their loosehead was off the field.
But almost as soon as they were back to full strength, replacement wing Carr crossed in the corner for a try from a Parks cross-kick, the difficult conversion unsuccessful.
The Dragons valiantly tried to hold out in the driving rain but it was all in vain as the old professional international stand-off kept his cool to slot over the winning drop goal in front of the posts.
This victory moves Connacht off the bottom of the PRO12, Pat Lam’s men leapfrogging Italian minnows Zebre.
For the Dragons, it’s back to the drawing board ahead of their big Christmas derby with Cardiff Blues at Rodney Parade on Boxing Day.
Their rivals lost out on Friday night when they went down 22-19 to the Ospreys at Cardiff Arms Park in an entertaining derby.
Connacht: Robbie Henshaw, Gavin Duffy, Eoin Griffin, Dave McSharry, Matt Healy, Dan Parks, Kieran Marmion, Brett Wilkinson, Jason Harris-Wright, Nathan White, Mick Kearney, Craig Clarke (captain), John Muldoon, Jake Heenan, Eoin McKeon
Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Denis Buckley, Rodney Ah You, Andrew Browne, George Naoupu, Paul O'Donohoe, Jack Carty, Fionn Carr.
Newport Gwent Dragons: Dan Evans, Will Harries, Pat Leach, Ross Wardle, Hallam Amos, Jason Tovey, Richie Rees, Owen Evans, Sam Parry, Francisco Chaparro, Cory Hill, Andrew Coombs (capt), Lewis Evans, Nic Cudd, Toby Faletau. Replacements: Ashley Smith, Steffan Jones, Wayne Evans, T Rhys Thomas, Hugh Gustafson, Dan Way, Matthew Screech Ieuan Jones.
Connacht scorers: Try – Fionn Carr, Penalties – Dan Parks (2), Drop goal – Parks
Dragons scorers: Try – Dan Evans, Penalties – Jason Tovey (2)
Referee: Alain Rolland (IRFU)