Thursday night in Newport, and Glasgow catching up with some of their postponed fixtures. The game kicked off on what can only be described as a beach, with what seemed like the contents of Newport Sands having been laid to get the game the go ahead, and an early knock on from the Warriors gave the Dragons a scrum deep in Glasgow’s half. The Dragons went through the phases and eventually got a simple penalty shot, Angus O’Brien making no mistake.
The same could not be said for the Glasgow attack, with handling errors continuing to blight their play. Naiyarovoro seemed to be far from interested in proceedings, perhaps his mind wandering to his return to Australia at the end of this season, and he was guilt of knocking in in contact in the Dragons 22. From the resulting scrum Duncan Weir showed great line speed and even better body position to win a brilliant penalty. He completed the job and levelled the scores at 3 a piece, the start of a solid performance for the standoff who is also on the move next season.
Glasgow’s discipline continues to be a source of huge concern, and another cheap 3 points was followed by a harsh yellow for American lock Greg Peterson for blocking. O’Brien knocked the resulting penalty as well, giving the Dragons a 6 point lead and a man advantage.
The Welsh seemed happy to play kicking ping pong with Peter Murchie and Weir both engaging in lengthy battles with the Dragons back 3. The Warriors just couldn’t get going and it was the Dragons that had the chance of the first try with some relentless pressure. The Warriors managed to escape though, and moved into Dragons territory. Poor discipline by the Welsh gave another penalty which Weir dispatched. The Dragons just kept coming though and replied almost immediately with a 40m nudge restoring the 6 point lead.
Approaching half-time the dreaded maul came into play, but despite conceding one penalty and receiving a rather blunt warning from the referee, the Welsh were unable to capitalise and the Scotstoun men escaped undamaged.
HT NG Dragons 12 – 6 Glasgow
The second half started with a bang, with the Warriors finally getting the territory and space that they craved. A smashing set piece move from deep in the Welsh 22 gave the returning Dunbar the chance to pick the line needed to power through the defence for the try. Weir slotted the extras and all looked well with the Warriors taking the lead 13-12.
The 2015/16 Warriors iteration however seems hell bent on causing problems for itself, and the penalty count was racking up yet again. The Dragons took full advantage, first gaining field position before another breakdown penalty gave O’Brien another pop at goal which he took with aplomb.
The young Welsh 7s specialist was having a very good night with the boot, but finally missed from 45m on 54 mins, much to the relief of the Glasgow side. The Warriors were able to turn the tide, gaining some penalties of their own and the referee Gary Conway finally warned the Dragons after a couple of red zone infringements. The end result, however, was a beautifully taken ‘try’ by Gordon Reid from the back of a ruck being chopped off. Glasgow have history with this move, and Scotland used it effectively for Peter Horne’s try against Australia but this time the official called it up. It was one of a series of dubious decisions from the man in charge, which seemed to play out mostly in favour of the home team.
A pretty poor night came to a crunching end for Taqele Naiyarovoro, with a line break beating four men and showing the type of barnstorming play that the Warriors faithful had expected when the big man signed. The tackle was finally made but a stray knee caught the Fijian on the head and he exited under head injury protocol, being replaced by the slightly less imposing figure of Lee Jones.
Weir then had a very simple attempt to knock the Warriors back ahead, but his 25m kick strayed wide, much to the surprise of the Warriors management. The Dragons were next to attempt another 3, this time Carl Meyer stepping up from distance but the kick was nowhere close but with 10 minutes to go the Warriors were trailing.
Young Zander Fagerson made an appearance off the bench, fresh from his excursions with Scotland. The big prop carried like his life depended on it, making hard yards and battering defenders out of his way. Not to be outdone however was Josh Strauss, who put in another brilliant display with ball in hand. One corker of a break, involving two beaten defenders then a fantastic, if not perhaps forward, offload resulted in Weir touching down for the Warriors 2nd try. The TMO couldn’t find an angle to rule the score out, which tells you a lot about the refereeing leanings in this match. Weir hit the post with the conversion though meaning it was a 3 point game with 5 minutes to play.
The Warriors made it difficult with another two penalties, thankfully way outside kicking distance, but the game finally ended with a lineout for the Dragons in the Glasgow half called not straight. This brought to an end a night where the referee seemed determined to make the headlines but a solid 4 points bagged for Glasgow and hope of a playoff place still intact.
FT NG Dragons 15 – 18 Glasgow
Man of the Match: As if determined to make a mockery of what most Scotland fans thought was a poor selection call by Vern Cotter, Josh Strauss was brilliant, carrying effectively and leading from the front and offloading for Weir’s try. Duncan Weir had a good game, Dunbar looked sharp on return from injury and the bench made a huge impact, particularly Zander Fagerson.
Newport Gwent Dragons: Carl Meyer, Ashton Hewitt, Adam Hughes, Adam Warren, Nick Scott, Angus O’Brien, Sarel Pretorius; Phil Price, Thomas Rhys Thomas (capt), Brok Harris, Cory Hill, Matthew Screech, Nick Crosswell, Nic Cudd, Lewis Evans.
Replacements: Rhys Buckley, Hugh Gustafson, Lloyd Fairbrother, Rynard Landman, James Benjamin, Charlie Davies, Geraint Rhys Jones, Ross Wardle.
Glasgow: Peter Murchie; Taqele Naiyaravoro, Glenn Bryce, Alex Dunbar, Rory Hughes; Duncan Weir, Mike Blair; Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Fraser Brown, Sila Puafisi, Greg Peterson, Leone Nakarawa, Rob Harley, Simon Favaro, Josh Strauss (capt).
Replacements: James Malcolm, Gordon Reid, Zander Ferguson, James Eddie, Chris Fusaro, Grayson Hart, Fraser Lyle, Lee Jones.