Newport Gwent Dragons 6 Falcons 18

Sunday 29 January 2017

Newcastle Falcons claimed an Anglo-Welsh Cup victory at a sodden Rodney Parade despite the referee calling full-time 12 minutes early in appalling conditions.

With the pitch clearly unplayable the score at the 68-minute mark stood as the official result, both sides having given it everything.

Predictably it became a scrappy territorial battle with plenty of boot-to-ball, Joel Hodgson probing the corner for a Falcons side who won an early turnover when Juan Pablo Socino’s midfield presence forced a Dragons knock-on in contact.

But it was the home side who had the first say on the scoreboard nine minutes in when winger Tom Prydie defied the soft underfoot conditions, sending over a penalty from 40 metres out after an indiscretion at the ruck.

Newcastle hit back when a penalty from similar range was kicked to the left corner, an unstoppable driving maul seeing a try for Mark Wilson down the left-hand side which was brilliantly converted by Tongan scrum-half Sonatane Takulua on his first kick at goal for the club.

Prydie’s second penalty cut the Falcons’ lead to a single point when a firmly-struck grubber was knocked on by Alex Tait and collected in an offside position by a team-mate ahead of him, but the visitors pulled away on the half-hour when Belisario Agulla dotted down.

The Argentinean wing dived in at the right corner following a sublime cut-out pass from Hodgson, Takulua having given the move some momentum with a snipe a couple of phases earlier.

The scrum-half extended the half-time advantage to 15-6 in his side’s favour with a well-struck penalty, and he was at it again three minutes into the second half when the Dragons failed to release the tackled player inside their own 22.

Vereniki Goneva’s line-break threatened to get the Falcons a third try as the ensuing play saw repeated phases and eventually a five-metre scrum in the Dragons’ red zone, but the home defence held firm and were let off the hook when Takulua’s 55th minute penalty flew wide of the target.

The Dragons’ cause was furthered hampered by the sin-binning of lock Rynard Landman for side entry at a midfield ruck as the match ticked past the hour mark, but with 12 minutes on the clock and pitch deteriorating all the time, common sense prevailed and play was brought to a premature end.

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Belisario Agulla, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Sonatane Takulua; 1 Rob Vickers, 2 Scott Lawson, 3 Jon Welsh, 4 Calum Green, 5 Evan Olmstead, 6 Sean Robinson, 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Mark Wilson.

Falcons scorers - Tries: Mark Wilson, Belisario Agulla. Conversions: Sonatane Takulua. Penalties: Sonatane Takulua 2.

Newport Gwent Dragons: 15 Carl Meyer, 14 Adam Hughes (captain), 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Adam Warren, 11 Tom Prydie, 10 Dorian Jones, 9 Sarel Pretorius (Charlie Davies, 50); 1 Thomas Davies, 2 Rhys Buckley (Thomas Rhys Thomas, 50), 3 Brok Harris, 4 Matthew Screech, 5 Rynard Landman, 6 Ollie Griffiths, 7 Nic Cudd, 8 Harri Keddie.

Sin bin: Rynard Landman (58).

Dragons scorers - Penalties: Tom Prydie 2.

Referee: John Meredith.

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