Derby delight for Dragons
Henson brace in vein at Rodney Parade
Last Updated: 20/12/08 3:59pm
Connor: 10-point haul
Newport-Gwent Dragons registered a superb 30-24 bonus-point victory over rivals Ospreys in a thrilling derby at Rodney Parade.
Gavin Henson, making his return to action after an Achilles injury, looked to have inspired his side to victory with two tries, however Dragons stole the points.
Playing at full-back on the night, Henson scored either side of half-time but it wasn't enough as tries from Robert Lewis, Rhys Thomas, Gareth Wyatt and Jason Tovey saw the hosts win the first of six Welsh derbies over the Christmas period.
The Ospreys were just two points down with six minutes remaining, however a breakout from the hosts led to Colin Charvis chipping perfectly for Tovey who crossed for what was the decisive score.
Both sides needed to win for different reasons as the third-placed Ospreys lay just one point off Glasgow Warriors and seven behind runaway leaders Munster.
The Dragons are at the opposite end of the Magners League table and the win took them above arch rivals Cardiff Blues, a side they play on Boxing Day at Rodney Parade.
Within the opening quarter of an hour of the match the lead changed three times.
Outside-half Dan Biggar put the Ospreys ahead with a penalty before pressure on their line saw flanker Hoani MacDonald take a line-out, hooker Steve Jones go through a gap and scrum-half Lewis dive in at the corner.
Biggar's second penalty put the Ospreys 6-5 ahead but yet again the Dragons had their opponents on the goal-line for Wales prop Thomas to dive over.
Shaun Connor booted another penalty to extend the home side's lead before the Ospreys managed to get into the game eight minutes before the break.
Wales ace Henson, playing his first match in six weeks for his region due to injury and the birth of his second child, finished off a well-worked move across the backs to go over in the corner.
A third Biggar penalty from 42 metres cut the difference to just a single point at the break, however, within 30 seconds of the restart the Dragons regained their four-point advantage when Connor struck over.
The sides then exchanged tries within a minute of each other, MacDonald giving Dragons wing Wyatt a scoring pass before centre Parker sent Henson in for his second.
The Ospreys dominated the final 10 minutes as they went in search of the winning score, but a combination of excellent home defence and mistakes by the visitors kept the Dragons in front at 23-21.
But the Dragons got their try bonus point when flanker Charvis kicked over the top of the defensive line for full-back Tovey to latch onto and score.
Connor's conversion put the home team seven points ahead, and although Biggar's fourth penalty slashed the gap it was not enough to deny the home side the win.