9:36pm Thursday 16th January 2014
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons finished their Amlin Challenge Cup campaign on a winning note by beating Italian minnows Mogliano to finish second in Pool Two, but they didn’t have things all their own way.
Lyn Jones side trailed 9-3 after the first half at the Stadio Maurizio Quaggia before avoiding an upset thanks to tries by Wayne Evans and Ross Wardle.
The result ensured that the Dragons leapfrog Bordeaux-Begles after the French side were hammered 54-13 by group winners Bath at the Rec.
Mogliano headed into the game on the back of five heavy Pool Two losses that had seen them ship 264 points and 41 tries, an average of 53 and eight per game respectively.
The Dragons did the double over the part-timers in 2012/13 and as expected they repeated the trick.
But they certainly didn’t take the spoils as convincingly as they did in the previous 33-0, 53-3 and 50-8 successes.
The visitors were close to scoring straight from the kick-off but things went downhill fast in slippery conditions in northern Italy.
The Dragons were made to rue a mistake-ridden start when Nicolo Fadalti kicked the hosts into a 6-0 lead with a pair of penalties in the first quarter.
Fly-half Steffan Jones, in for the injured Jason Tovey, settled the visitors nerves when he reduced the deficit with three points from the tee after 25 minutes.
But they were forced into scrambling defence against a home side that were growing in confidence and were hindered by falling foul of English official Matthew Carley.
That indiscipline came back to haunt them on the brink of half-time when Nathan Buck was sent to the sin bin for not rolling away quick enough with Fadalti twisting the knife with another kick to make it 9-3.
After receiving some pearls of wisdom in the changing room the Dragons importantly got back on level terms thanks to Jones’ right boot.
And the Dragons were in a 14-9 lead when replacement scrum-half Wayne Evans darted over with his first touch, Wales Under-20s flanker Scott Matthews putting him in from a driving lineout.
And there was great relief when centre Ross Wardle went over following a super break by Matthews, replacement fly-half Kris Burton’s conversion making it 21-9.
Fadalti’s fourth penalty gave Mogliano a breather but it was soon cancelled out by Burton as the Dragons settled for making the game safe.
Mogliano scorers: penalties – N Fadalti (4)
Dragons scorers: tries – W Evans, R Wardle; conversion – K Burton; penalties – S Jones (3), K Burton
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