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Jones hails his Dragons

Lyn Jones paid tribute his Newport Gwent Dragons side as they progressed to the European Challenge Cup semi-finals with a thrilling victory over rivals Cardiff Blues at Rodney Parade.

Tries from wing Hallam Amos, replacement Nic Cudd and a penalty try helped them to a 25-21 success which earns the Dragons a place in a major European last four for only the second time.

Penalites from wing Tom Pyrdie and fly-half Dorian Jones and two Prydie conversions made up the home side's tally.

The Blues tries came from scrum-half Lloyd Williams, fly-half Gareth Anscombe and number eight Josh Navidi, while Anscombe kicked three conversions.

The game's turning point came just after the break when the Dragons hit the Blues hard and took the lead, which they did not relinquish.

Dragons head coach Jones said: "We are immensely proud of the players and the squad and the effort today.

"We told them so before the start of the game that levels and commitment in this competition have been exemplary, from going to Stade Francais and scoring four tries to going to Newcastle and doing the same.

"Today, we were not perhaps at our best - but we still had too much for the Blues.

"It is massive for the region, which is bouncing back from many years of being unsuccessful. It is so important to the supporters and players.

"We have a lot of inexperienced boys and it was a big game today - not just because it is the quarter-final of a prestigious tournament but also because it is a local derby.

"The players know each others' games inside out and that is what you saw there. A great standard of rugby and nervous players."

Jones also defended his decision to start Wales international Taulupe Faletau on the bench, although the British Lion number eight came on after 11 minutes when lock Andrew Coombs dislocated his kneecap.

The coach added: "Our back row has been very successful over the last couple of months and we have a different shape to our game.

"It is about rewarding people for good work - and we all know Toby is a good rugby player."

Blues caretaker coach Dale McIntosh claimed his side 'self-destructed' in the closing stages of the contest.

He said: "The Dragons deserved what they got but we did self-destruct in that third quarter.

"We knew they were going to make it difficult but we played in the wrong areas of the pitch.

"We generally made poor decisions at crucial times. We were comfortably 10 or 11 points better than they were in the first half."

McIntosh believed the Dragons' first try, from Amos, should not have been given, explaining: "It was blatant interference and I thought (Jack) Dixon (Dragons centre) was blocking the space - but we all make mistakes."


From Belfast Telegraph