THE Dragons took an important step closer towards knockout European rugby by gaining Challenge Cup revenge over Worcester with a 25-16 triumph.

The Rodney Parade region turned the tables in Newport, six days after having to settle for a consolation bonus in the West Midlands.

The left boot of Sam Davies proved to be the key in horrendous conditions with the Wales fly-half kicking a perfect seven from seven, his first being the conversion of Adam Warren’s early try.

He showed exactly why the Dragons moved to sign him from the Ospreys, punishing Worcester offences and forming an excellent half-back partnership with captain Rhodri Williams, who was also influential in fielding up and unders in the back field.

The duo rewarded the toil of the pack – with Wales forward Cory Hill digging deep to play the full 80 in his first game for 10 months, and play exceptionally well – and ensured that the Dragons stay top of Pool One, crucially denying Worcester a bonus point.

Dean Ryan’s men have a two-point advantage over Castres and are five clear of the Warriors.

There is still work to do if the Dragons are to repeat the exploits of 2007, 2015 and 2016 by playing knockout rugby.

Castres haven’t lost a European tie on their own turf in four years, that despite going up against Exeter, Munster, Gloucester, Leicester, Racing 92, Leinster, Northampton, Montpellier and Pau.

If the Dragons fail to upset the odds at the Stade Pierre Fabre then they will need to claim five points against Enisei-STM and hope that other results go their way.

But Ryan & Co certainly would have taken that when the draw was made; their fate is in their own hands heading into January.

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The Dragons made a dream start to cross with 2 minutes, three seconds on the clock.

A penalty was kicked to the 22 and driven before carries from centre Warren, back row forwards Aaron Wainwright and Ollie Griffiths, then hooker Elliot Dee worked the hosts to within centimetres under the posts.

With penalty advantage, fly-half Davies floated a long pass to the unmarked Warren on the left wing before superbly adding the extras for a 7-0 lead.

Davies was accurate twice from the tee to stretch the advantage to 13 points after 16 minutes, reward from a bright start and punishing Worcester for a sloppy one.

However, the Warriors were right back in it after half an hour courtesy of the boot of Duncan Weir with two sweetly-struck penalties from the Scotland international making it 13-6.

The Dragons were getting on the wrong side of French referee Ludovic Cayre and two penalties were kicked to within five metres, the Warriors opting against another three from the tee.

They were looking threatening when play was stopped by a dust-up that led to yellow cards for home wing Ashton Hewitt and visiting number eight Cornell du Preez.

Strong defence meant that the Dragons should have escaped with their seven-point lead intact but instead Wainwright knocked on when carrying from a five-metre scrum and Worcester earned a penalty from the resulting set piece.

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Weir made no mistake with the final kick of the half and the game, and control of the group, was in the balance at 13-9.

It was Worcester that started on the front foot and scrum shenanigans led to it being 14 versus 13 with Dragons loosehead Brok Harris sent to the sin bin.

The Warriors kicked to the corner, piled the pressure on to earn penalty advantage and then Weir produced a perfect cross-kick to put wing Tom Howe over down the left, Rhodri Williams unable to make the cover tackle.

The Scotland fly-half twisted the knife with a sublime conversion to make it 16-13 to the English side only for Davies to swiftly punish an offside to level and Weir to then become the first 10 to miss.

The Dragons were getting nothing out of Mr Cayre, allowing the Warriors to boss possession and territory as the hour approached and the rain hammered down.

Back-to-back penalties earned Davies a long-range shot at goal in the 59th minute and he made no mistake in his personal duel with Weir to make it 19-16.

It was a nervy affair entering the final quarter with both sides knowing that any mistakes within range were likely to be punished by the fly-halves.

That proved to be the case when an offside allowed Davies to make it 22-16 with 12 minutes left.

Worcester’s task got harder in the 72nd minute when replacement prop Ethan Waller was shown red for a high tackle on Cory Hill.

The Dragons had to secure the win, and ideally take away the Warriors’ consolation bonus.

They had the chance to do that in the 75th minute after a breakdown offence and, despite an annoying delay waiting for the tee to arrive, Davies made no mistake to make it 25-16.

The 14-men visitors tried to salvage something but failed, leaving them to play catch-up on the Dragons in 2020.

Dragons: W Talbot-Davies, O Jenkins, A Warren, J Dixon, A Hewitt, S Davies, R Williams (captain), B Harris, E Dee (R Hibbard 53), L Brown (A Jarvis 53), J Davies, M Screech (H Keddie 63), C Hill, O Griffiths, A Wainwright.

Scorers: try – A Warren; conversion – S Davies; penalties – S Davies (6)

Yellow card: A Hewitt, B Harris

Worcester: C Pennell, P Humphreys, A Beck, J Lance, T Howe, D Weir, F Hougaard, C Black, N Annett (captain), N Schonert, A Bresler, G Kitchener, T Hill, S Lewis, C Du Preez. Replacements: I Miller, E Waller, R Palframan, J Clegg, GJ van Velze, M Heaney, N Heward, N David.

Scorers: try – T Howe; conversion – D Weir; penalties – D Weir (3) Yellow card: C Du Preez Red card: E Waller

Referee: Ludovic Cayre (France)

Attendance: 4,073

Argus star man: Sam Davies