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Faletau injured during Dragons win

Newport Gwent Dragons were left sweating on their star number eight Taulupe Faletau ahead of the Boxing Day derby with Cardiff Blues after the Wales international went off injured during their 25-11 victory over Italians Zebre on Sunday.

Faletau was replaced after 23 minutes as he nursed his ankle and coach Kingsley Jones confirmed after the match that the 24-year-old left the ground with a boot on his foot and would be assessed on Monday regarding his fitness for the Blues game.

Although he was able to limp off the pitch and to the dressing room, it will be a major blow if the British Lion is not available for the Arms Park date on Friday.

Without him, the Dragons managed only a second win of their Guinness Pro12 season as centre Ross Wardle, wing Hallam Amos and lock Rynard Landman all scored tries while wing Tom Prydie kicked two penalties and two conversions.

Zebre crossed the home line once when hooker Andrea Manici dived over in the second half, while outside-half Kelly Haimona landed two penalties.

However, it was a first-half of low quality rugby as the Dragons took the lead with a 25-metre penalty from Prydie when Zebre strayed offside.

The visitors pulled back the points to level at 3-3 as Haimona landed the first of his penalties from 26 metres before the Dragons took the advantage thanks to a break down the middle from Prydie, who fed Wardle on the right.

The centre cut back inside and - with the Zebre defence stretched - he dived over the line for the try that Prydie converted.

The Dragons saw their advantage reduced when they were accused of not releasing at a ruck and Haimona made no mistake with an easy 20-metre penalty.

But the Welshmen found themselves a man up seconds before the break when Zebre flanker Mauro Bergamasco was sin-binned for a ruck offence and Prydie booted three points.

It gave the Welsh side a seven-point advantage and that was increased to 19 in total after Zebre wing Leonardo Sarto was sin-binned, leaving his team with 13 men on the pitch.

Twice fly-half Jason Tovey sent his team-mates over with Welsh international Amos first to be on the receiving end soon after Sarto's dismissal as he roared into the corner.

Then, 10 minutes into the second period, giant South African Landman was in the clear on the right and had no trouble rumbling over from 20 metres.

There was every chance, with half-an-hour left, that the Dragons could get a crucial try bonus point with one more touchdown. That they did not was mostly their own fault.

Manici caught the home defence asleep as Zebre took quick possession near the Dragons line and drove in from five metres.

Then the Dragons had a golden chance as wing Matthew Pewtner stormed upfield for a break that looked certain to end in a try but, when he was caught, a forward pass to the right ended the move.

And there was little more that the Dragons offered as the final minutes approached.

Indeed, Zebre fought gamely for a losing bonus point but that did not arrive and they left Wales with nothing to show for their efforts.


From Belfast Telegraph