RaboDirect Pro12: Newport Gwent Dragons see off Cardiff Blues
Last Updated: 26/12/13 9:48pm
Toby Faletau: No 8 scored Newport Gwent Dragons' only try
Newport Gwent Dragons earned their first home win over rivals Cardiff Blues since March 2012 in the Boxing Day fixture at Rodney Parade.
Dragons outside-half Jason Tovey enjoyed a perfect day with the boot, landing five penalties and converting No 8 Toby Faletau's first-half try to give the Dragons a 22-16 victory.
The Blues were their own worst enemies at times as errors in the second half, during their best period of the match, meant that they failed to add a further try to the effort of hooker Kristian Dacey, which full-back Leigh Halfpenny converted. Halfpenny also added a penalty before the interval and two more after the break.
However, there were concerns for Wales national coach Warren Gatland ahead of the build-up to the RBS Six Nations when rising star wing Hallam Amos was helped off the pitch with a leg injury.
The result takes the Dragons to sixth place in the table with their fifth win of the campaign, while the Blues have now suffered seven defeats and lay in ninth, just behind the Scarlets and the lowest ranked of the Welsh regions in the league.
There will be a chance for the Blues, who took a losing bonus point, to gain revenge on New Year's Day when the teams have a rematch at Cardiff Arms Park but this clash saw the Dragons lay down the gauntlet from the start as they caused the Blues headaches throughout.
Tovey was the centre of attention for two reasons in the early stages as he kicked the first points of the match via a 40-metre penalty and then was the victim of a possible dangerous tackle when opposite number Rhys Patchell grabbed him and turned the Dragons' half-back horizontal before laying him on the ground. The home crowd demanded a yellow card but referee Ian Davies disagreed.
Then came a piece of magic from Faletau and his front row colleagues from a line-out on the Blues 10 metre line. Faletau stood at the scrum-half position as hooker Rhys Thomas, playing against his former region, looked to throw long.
The Blues took the bait, retreated backwards at the front of the line-out and opened a hole. Thomas fed loosehead prop Nathan Buck to pass to the Wales number eight who raced through the gap and roared over the line.
Faletau was immense as the Dragons tried to pour on the agony but finally Blues captain Sam Hobbs rallied his troops into action, paying off when a ruck on the right saw scrum-half Lloyd Williams feed the ball inside to centre Dafydd Hewitt.
A great slight of hand sent Dacey charging past the home defence and over the line for a try which Halfpenny converted.
Halfpenny landed a penalty either side of the break to put the Blues into a 13-10 lead but they lost number eight Robin Copeland to the sin-bin for 10 minutes near the hour and gave Tovey too many kickable penalties that he gratefully took and steer his side to 22-13.
Halfpenny added another penalty for a perfect four out of four kicking performance, keeping his side in sight of the win.
But a combination of stern Dragons defence and handling errors when inside the home 22 saw the Blues' efforts come to nothing.
Sat 16th May
Cardiff Blues29 - 5Zebre
Connacht20 - 24Ospreys
Edinburgh23 - 36Leinster
Glasgow Warriors32 - 10Ulster
Munster50 - 27Dragons
Treviso13 - 17Scarlets
Fri 22nd May - Semi-final
Glasgow Warriors0 - 0Ulster
Sat 23rd May - Semi-final
Munster0 - 0Ospreys
RaboDirect PRO12 2013/14 R11
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Benetton Treviso secured bragging rights in Italian rugby with a much-needed 20-15 victory over bottom side Zebre.
Fly-half JJ Hanrahan scored all Munster's points as they secured a 22-16 victory over Connacht at Thomond Park.