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Match Reaction: Newport Gwent Dragons 32 Exeter Chiefs 37

Exeter Chiefs skills coach Ricky Pellow paid tribute to a scrummaging masterclass from his pack after the reigning LV= Cup champions marched into the semi-finals of the competition with a win at Newport Gwent Dragons.

The Chiefs had to weather a second-half fightback from the home side, after tries from centres Adam Hughes and Tom James, wing Fetu'u Vainikolo and No. 8 Sam Skinner had given them the advantage and a guaranteed bonus point.

The Dragons would not lie down however, and scores from lock Cory Hill, replacements Luc Jones and Scott Matthews and full-back Jason Tovey earned them two bonus points, despite a late penalty try for Exeter when the Dragons scrum collapsed on their own line.

Exeter had dominated at scrum-time throughout the contest, winning penalty after penalty as the Dragons toiled, and Pellow was thrilled with their contribution.

"We are massively pleased with this group of players who have worked hard over this LV= Cup block,” he said.

“This was a really tough game but the boys will celebrate now, reset on Tuesday and get ready for Saracens to try and nail down a home semi-final.

"But I am really pleased for the players and the club that we are in another semi-final.

"Our forwards gave us a good platform to play off and the front-five scrummage was outstanding.

“In the second half, the Dragons came back which we always knew they would as they are a big, physical group of players."

Meanwhile Dragons coach Kingsley Jones also admitted the discrepancy in the scrum was the difference between the teams on the day.

He said: "We are disappointed with the first half and we found it hard going.

"Exeter are a good Aviva Premiership Rugby team, strong and direct, but I thought we were dangerous on occasions but we didn't have that platform of a scrum, unfortunately.

“But there are players who have put their hands up and this week looking towards next weekend and the league matches after that."
 
Newport Gwent Dragons: Tovey, Prydie, Meyer, Smith, Hewitt, D Jones (O’Brien 46), Rees (L Jones 55), Fairbrother (Young 61), Gustafson (Buckley 50), Way (Evans 46), Screech (Davies 65), Hill, Crosswell, Benjamin (Matthews 65), Powell (Evans 28).
 
Exeter Chiefs: McGuigan, Vainikolo (May 61), Whitten (Bodilly 62), Hughes, James, Sweeney, Thomas (Townsend 79), Sturgess (Woolmore 79), Taione (Bateman 65), Francis (Stanley 79), Sexton (Conlon 75), Carrick-Smith (Holmes 54), Johnson, Simmonds, Skinner.
 
Scorers
 
Newport Gwent Dragons
Tries: Hill, L Jones, Matthews, Tovey
Conversions: Prydie 3
Penalties: Prydie 2
 
Exeter Chiefs
Tries: Hughes, Vainikolo, James, Skinner, Penalty
Conversions: Sweeney 3
Penalties: Sweeney 2
 
Referee: Greg MacDonald
Attendance: 5,081

Tickets for this year's LV= Cup Final on 22 March at Franklin's Gardens are now on sale. Click here to snap one up from just £20 for adults, £10 for juniors to see who will win the first silverware of the season.

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