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Newport Gwent Dragons pile misery on Gloucester

Gloucester's miserable season continued as Newport Gwent Dragons pulled off a shock 23-21 victory at Kingsholm in the quarter-final of the European Challenge Cup.

Dragons face a huge task in the semi-finals with an away game at high-flying Montpellier but a late try from Charlie Davies to add to five penalties from Dorian Jones and one from Carl Meyer sent the holders out of the competition.

Stevie McColl and Ben Morgan scored tries for Gloucester with Greig Laidlaw kicking three penalties and a conversion and the defeat virtually guarantees that Gloucester will not qualify for the European Champions Cup next season.

Dragons made a poor start as their kick-off went straight into touch but they recovered to take a ninth-minute lead with a penalty from Jones.

Despite this setback, the home side dominated the opening quarter as they declined to take kickable penalties in favour of more attacking options to test the Dragons' defence.

After 13 minutes, they were rewarded when a neat off-load from Matt Kvesic created the space for Morgan to gallop 20 metres to score the opening try.

Laidlaw missed the conversion before an excellent burst from Taulupe Faletau took the visitors into the opposition 22 and when Gloucester were penalised, a second penalty from Jones put Dragons back in front.

However that score was against the run of play as the hosts continued to dominate and a penalty from Laidlaw put his side 8-6 ahead at the end of the first quarter.

Dragons soon suffered two further blows when first scrum-half Sarel Pretorius was yellow-carded for a dangerous challenge before Laidlaw kicked his second penalty.

Jones had two chances to reduce the arrears but they were not taken as a long-range penalty attempt went badly astray before a much easier kick rebounded back off a post.

Despite being down to 14 men, Dragons had their best period of the half and deservedly picked up some points when Jones kicked his third penalty.

Pretorius returned from the sin-bin as Dragons maintained their momentum for the remainder of the half. Gloucester captain Laidlaw was yellow-carded for playing the ball after being tackled, with Jones kicking the resulting penalty for Dragons to hold a 12-11 interval lead.

Four minutes after the restart, Dragons extended that advantage with a fifth penalty from Jones before Laidlaw was able to return in time to see Meyer fire over a superb kick from inside his own half.

With 18 minutes remaining, Gloucester drew level when James Hook chipped through and when Pretorius was unable to gather, McColl was on hand to collect and score the try, which Laidlaw converted.

Jones missed a golden opportunity to put Dragons back in front but his 30-metre drop goal attempt sailed wide before Laidlaw gave Gloucester the lead.

But with four minutes remaining, Dragons scored the decisive try when Davies finished off a driving line-out to send the holders out of the competition.


From Belfast Telegraph