Newport Gwent Dragons drew first blood for Wales with victory over Newcastle Falcons on the opening night of the EDF Energy Cup
Newport Gwent Dragons 25, Newcastle Falcons 14
Newport Gwent Dragons drew first blood for Wales with victory over Newcastle Falcons on the opening night of the EDF Energy Cup.
Jason Tovey raced over for the winner on 75 minutes after skipper Marc Stcherbina and Tom Isaacs had put the Dragons on their way in an entertaining clash at Rodney Parade.
Newcastle threatened to over-power the Dragons when they led 14-13 early in the second half following a penalty try and wing Ollie Phillips' solo score.
But Colin Charvis stepped off the bench to steady the ship with a scoring pass as the Dragons claimed a third victory on the bounce.
The Dragons experienced a mix start, scoring on their first attack into Falcons territory through the boot of teenager Tovey, but they spent most of the opening quarter on the back foot as Newcastle's larger pack took a grip.
But the Falcons failed to make the most of their dominance and were struck by a classic counter-attack by the lively Dragons.
Tovey pounced on a lose pass to hack up field before releasing Jamie Ringer and Gareth Wyatt. Tovey got his hands on the ball again and chipped ahead a second time, this time following it up with a tackle on Newcastle's Danny Williams who lost control of the ball to gift captain-for-the-night Stcherbina a try under the posts.
Tovey converted and the Dragons, against the run of play, were clear ten points to nil.
But Jamie Ringer was shown the yellow card for dangerous play at a ruck and the Dragons were always struggling to keep the Falcons out.
They almost managed it, but seconds before Ringer returned, the sheer weight of Newcastle's pack caused the retreating Dragons front-row to collapse and referee Rob Debney awarded the penalty try. Rory Clegg converted.
However Tovey struck again with a second penalty from close to the touch line to open a six-point lead just before half time.
The Dragons were caught napping at the start of the second half as Falcons wing Ollie Phillips was rewarded for his persistence, beating Tal Selley and then Phil Dollman to the touch down. Clegg converted and Newcastle led for the first time on 43 minutes at 14-13.
Colin Charvis, the former Wales captain, entered the fray on 53 minutes to the loudest cheer of the night and the veteran back-row produced a scoring pass nine minutes later as replacement scrum-half Issacs scorched over.
Tovey converted and still had the legs to settle this entertaining encounter with the winner five minutes from time as the Dragons finished on a high to win 25-14.
Wales reached their first semi-final since 2013 in the opening round of this season's HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai. WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie recaps on what proved to be an eventful tournament
Wales and Ospreys back row James King, who came through the North Wales age grade system, nominated North Wales Regional Community Rugby Manager Marc Roberts, in the WRU's 'Diolch' initiative where squad players thanked those who played a part in their rise to the top.
Beating Merthyr has boosted Carmarthen Quins hopes of reaching a top eight spot in the Principality Premiership. Quins captain Haydn Pugh is delighted with his team's progress and is determined that everyone from the Under 6s through to the senior team, enjoys the ride.
When the Wales squad were asked to nominate individuals who played a big part in their early playing days, Wales and Dragons full back and wing Hallam Amos thought of his former Monmouth School rugby coach John Bevan.
Sam Cross and Luke Treharne have been named as co-captains of the Wales Sevens side as head coach Gareth Williams names his 12-man squad to play in the first leg of the HSBC World Series in Dubai next weekend.
Bedwas head coach Steve Law and players Nicky Griffiths and Alun Rees extol the virtues of the close knit club as they prepare to host third place RGC 1404 - who are one place head of them on the Principality Premiership points table - on Saturday.
Many of the Wales squad have said Diolch (thank you) to someone who played an important part in their early playing days by nominating them to be invited to the Wales v South Africa match. One person, Gowerton Comprehensive geography teacher Mr Dean Mason was nominated by two of his former pupils, Dan Biggar and Sam Davies.
The second WRU disability rugby pilot has been delivered, this time in Caerphilly schools, culminating in a festival at the Caerphilly Centre of Sporting Excellence, Ystrad Mynach tomorrow. Plans are in place to set up a Disability Rugby Club in Newbridge to provide long-term playing opportunities.
WRU TV: Hear from inside the Wales camp as Neil Jenkins discusses this weekend's clash with South Africa and how the squad are looking to put in a strong performance to round of the 2016 Under Armour Series