Newport Gwent Dragons skipper Geraint Rhys Jones believes his teammates did their job perfectly to deny an imperious looking Wasps victory in the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s final.
Joy quickly turned to heartbreak for the Aviva Premiership Rugby side, as Harry Keddie crossed the whitewash at Twickenham Stoop with the clock already into the red to see the Dragons win 17-14 and snatch the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s trophy from Wasps’ grasp.
The Dragons knew the bitter taste of defeat in the final themselves, having been runners-up to Gloucester Rugby in 2014’s competition, but made sure the same did not happen again as they trumped the heavily-fancied English side.
Theirs will be the first ever Welsh name on the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s trophy, and Jones insists the victory was down to keeping the ball when it counted to frustrate a Wasps line-up that included the likes of Elliot Daly, Christian Wade, and Dan Robson.
“It’s definitely a very happy moment for all of us at Newport Gwent Dragons,” he said. “We were so disappointed last year, losing out in the final, and it was our aim to go one step further this year.
“All the boys really stepped up and showed that they’ve got some great skills. Everyone had to dig deep and got us that win in the end.
“That was such a tight finish and it was a very tough match. We knew Wasps were a very strong team, and if we were going to win the game we had to keep the ball away from them.
“So those last minutes we did so well to keep hold of the ball and keep them away from it, which finished with us scoring that last-minute try.
“This is such a confidence booster for our team. There were a lot of young boys who had never played in front of a crowd like this before, and they really stepped up against these big players to show that they’re just as good.
After easing their way through the Welsh qualifier, the Dragons opened up their evening at the Singha 7s final with a 26-10 quarter-final victory over Sale Sharks.
They then avenged last year’s final defeat by before overcoming defending champions Gloucester 19-14 to set-up their final berth.
And after lifting the trophy in front of a packed Twickenham Stoop, Jones reflected on what was a big milestone in his career.
He said: “To actually win a tournament and lift a trophy is a big moment for me. As a captain that’s the first time I have ever lifted a trophy, so I am really proud to be doing it in the Gwent jersey and winning for my region.
“Hopefully now this will kick us on really well into the season. Winning lifts the entire team, and we want to carry this momentum into the start of the season.
“We’ve got a big game tomorrow against Cardiff Blues, our last preseason game, before the season starts properly next week.
“A lot of us were coming out here tonight hoping to show that we’re good enough to play in that game next week, and I think some of the performances out here tonight will show Lyn Jones and the rest of the coaching team that we are ready to play."
Cup Quarter-Final: Newport Gwent Dragons 26 Sale Sharks 10
Cup Quarter-Final: Gloucester Rugby 31 Harlequins 26
Cup Quarter-Final: Wasps 33 Exeter Chiefs 5
Cup Quarter-Final: Newcastle Falcons 26 Scarlets 31
Plate Semi-Final: Sale Sharks 45 Harlequins 24
Cup Semi-Final: Newport Gwent Dragons 19 Gloucester Rugby 14
Plate Semi-Final: Exeter Chiefs 14 Newcastle Falcons 12
Cup Semi-Final: Scarlets 12 Wasps 33
Plate Final: Sale Sharks 19 Chiefs 26
Cup Final: Newport Gwent Dragons 17 Wasps 12