A three-try salvo in the opening 18 minutes set Newport Gwent Dragons on their way to victory in a high-scoring thriller against Welsh rivals Ospreys in the LV= Cup.
Ross Wardle opened the scoring at Bridgend Ford Brewery Field before a pair of Lewis Evans tries from driving mauls put the result almost beyond doubt with less than a quarter of the game gone.
A double from Cory Hill and one from Jonathan Evans made the score 48-0 before Hanno Dirksen, Dafydd Howells, Cai Griffiths, Aisea Nagota and a penalty try added some respectability, and a four-try bonus point, for the hosts.
Ospreys have a 100 per cent record in this year’s PRO12, including a 17-15 win over the Dragons at Rodney Parade, but have now suffered back-to-back LV= Cup losses following the visitors’ imperious attacking display.
Dragons director of rugby Lyn Jones made five changes to his starting XV from last week’s 31-21 defeat to Harlequins and his new-look team came out firing on all cylinders.
With six minutes on the clock, veteran prop Boris Stankovich applied pressure to a scrum and Geraint Rhys Jones duly converted the resultant penalty.
Just three minutes later that lead was extended as Ashton Hewitt made a break before a neat exchange between Wardle and James Benjamin allowed the former to dot down.
And things soon went from bad to worse for the home side as a successful lineout set up an inexorable driving maul from 15 metres out that ended with Lewis Evans touching down before Jones made it 17-0.
Evans was making his 150th appearance for the Dragons and celebrated the occasion with a second try mere minutes after the first.
Once again the Ospreys pack had no answer for their opponents’ superior physicality as another driving maul, this time from 30 metres, steadily marched towards the try-line and the No. 8 completed the job.
Jones was once again perfect from the tee to give the Dragons a 24-0 lead over their shell-shocked rivals with only 18 minutes gone.
The third try finally sparked a little life into the Ospreys but a second Jones penalty and lock Rory Thornton’s yellow card for collapsing a maul soon quelled any hope of a miraculous comeback.
And the visitors made their man advantage count by wrapping up the bonus point with 31 minutes gone – Hill barrelling over from close-range and Jones adding the extras.
But there was still more misery for the Ospreys before they could retreat to the refuge of the dressing room as Dragons captain Rynard Landman offloaded to Jonathan Evans in the 22 and the scrum-half jogged over.
Jones’ fifth successful conversion meant the scoreline read an astounding 41-0 as the dejected home troops trudged off at the break.
The Dragons almost had a sixth try soon after the break but were held up over the line – however they weren’t to be denied for long.
A quickly-taken penalty was eventually worked to Hill and the lock crashed over for the score.
Dirksen then finally got his side on the scoreboard when he cut a nice line through the Dragons defence on 51 minutes and touched down before Sam Davies added the extras.
And winger Howells burrowed over a couple of minute later to narrow the gap to 48-14 as Ospreys tried to add some respectability to the scoreline.
Although any thoughts of a comeback may still have been fanciful, the hosts did move a step closer to a four-try bonus point themselves just before the hour mark.
They took a leaf out of their opponents’ book with a driving lineout and Griffiths peeled off to notch try number three.
Davies added another two points before Jones landed his third penalty right in front of the posts.
Both Joe Davies and Dorian Jones were sent to the sin bin for the Dragons as Ospreys earned themselves a penalty try before Nagota went over to ensure the game ended 51-35.
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