Dragons must close out thrillers – Darren Edwards

HEAD coach Darren Edwards has acknowledged the pressing need for Newport Gwent Dragons to swap plucky defeats for victories.

Just like the derby defeat to Cardiff Blues, the Rodney Parade region emerged with plenty of credit from their narrow Amlin Challenge Cup loss in Bayonne on Thursday evening.

They had their noses in front for much of the game in the south of France and led 22-18 until a late try by Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips broke their hearts.

It was a performance that earned the Dragons plenty of praise yet they head into Thursday’s clash with Wasps on a four-game losing streak.

“It’s another game that got away from us,” lamented Edwards, whose side were 19-6 up with half an hour left.

“There were so many pleasing aspects of that performance but we should have seen it home.
“The boys are gutted, totally devastated, because that game was there to be won and we should have been good enough to get over the line.

“I feel it’s just a case of getting over that hump and dealing with the pressure that will inevitably come at the end of a game.

“A team will always throw everything at you in the closing stages, especially when at home, and in those situations you cannot afford to give away penalties or allow little mistakes to creep in.

“Bayonne brought on the likes of (former New Zealand tighthead prop) Neemia Tialata and Mike Phillips.

“They put a lot of heat on us in the final quarter and concentration, control and discipline becomes key.

“It’s just so frustrating that we couldn’t quite hang on because a lot of our guys were experiencing their first big game in France and getting a win would have been a massive hurdle cleared.”

Wasps will head to Rodney Parade with top spot in Pool Three secure because a five-point haul against Italian whipping boys Mogliano is inevitable today.

But Dai Young’s side, who unbeaten in five and are chasing a Aviva Premiership playoff spot, will be attempting to secure a home quarter-final.

“Wasps are playing really well at the moment and we will have our hands full,” said Edwards.

“But our squad have got to take encouragement from the way that they performed in France and will be determined to finish well in Europe.”

The Dragons will monitor injuries to wing Mike Poole (head), centre Andy Tuilagi (hamstring) and lock Adam Jones (hip) after they were forced off at the Stade Jean Dauger.

* Newport Gwent Dragons’ performance in Bayonne earned great praise from the pundits in the
Sky Sports studio:

– FORMER England fly-half, and former Bassaleg School pupil, Stuart Barnes: “Darren Edwards said before the game that he wanted a performance and he got one.

“They must be feeling devastated because they played like it was a big cup final and put everything in.

“When they get on the plane to go home Darren Edwards should say to them ‘that was an outstanding effort’.

“Though they’ve lost and they’ve had a difficult season, they go into the Wasps game with no pressure on them.

“They can pick a strong team with half of the youngsters and you can see the Dragons starting to rise. It’s a significant performance.”

– EX-WALES captain Ieuan Evans: “There are a lot of young players in that side and they showed endeavour, energy and fighting spirit.

“They didn’t come away with the win that they perhaps deserved, but there was an awful lot to take satisfaction from.”

– ENGLAND World Cup winner Will Greenwood: “It was an unbelievably brave effort, I was really impressed.

"It was a brilliant performance from Ieuan Jones at number eight. Him and Lewis Evans were outstanding, not just with the ball they were huge defensively.”

Comments (14)

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10:32am Sat 12 Jan 13

Dai Trying says...

Maybe if Edwards had done his bit and made the substitutions at the right time, instead of leaving it to late they may well have won. Not the first time he has left the substitutions to late. Making changes is a chance for the coach to be proactive and dictate to the opposition the pattern of play, instead we had the same old reactive changes that just turn a situation that is slipping away into won that is lost.
Maybe if Edwards had done his bit and made the substitutions at the right time, instead of leaving it to late they may well have won. Not the first time he has left the substitutions to late. Making changes is a chance for the coach to be proactive and dictate to the opposition the pattern of play, instead we had the same old reactive changes that just turn a situation that is slipping away into won that is lost. Dai Trying

11:20am Sat 12 Jan 13

let em swing says...

Bayonne seconds. still lost, still throwing games away. still no 10, still no rugby brain or nous, stil idiot in charge, if you take hope from this game your deluded.
Bayonne seconds. still lost, still throwing games away. still no 10, still no rugby brain or nous, stil idiot in charge, if you take hope from this game your deluded. let em swing

9:41pm Sat 12 Jan 13

SWBorderer says...

We had their seconds in front of us first half and a chance to put them away, so what was the game plan? it seemed to me the only plan was to kick the ball away. In the last 5 minutes, after they had strengthened their side, we showed what can be done when you keep possession instead of kicking it away.

There were enough old heads on there to make the right decisions but you have to blame the leadership, I have not seen one occasion this season where we have appeared to take the field with any idea of a game plan, does Darren even know what a game plan is? I'm sure my Grandson's U14's could tell him.

I appreciate it is difficult to build a strategy around a retreating pack, but we have had that problem long enough now for someone other than Toby to work out how to deal with it, and in the first half we more than held our own in that department.

We are very much a group of (at best) average players, with a couple of exceptions, but a decent coach can still take average players and mould them into a team, that task is way beyond the capabilities of the coachig set up we have.
We had their seconds in front of us first half and a chance to put them away, so what was the game plan? it seemed to me the only plan was to kick the ball away. In the last 5 minutes, after they had strengthened their side, we showed what can be done when you keep possession instead of kicking it away. There were enough old heads on there to make the right decisions but you have to blame the leadership, I have not seen one occasion this season where we have appeared to take the field with any idea of a game plan, does Darren even know what a game plan is? I'm sure my Grandson's U14's could tell him. I appreciate it is difficult to build a strategy around a retreating pack, but we have had that problem long enough now for someone other than Toby to work out how to deal with it, and in the first half we more than held our own in that department. We are very much a group of (at best) average players, with a couple of exceptions, but a decent coach can still take average players and mould them into a team, that task is way beyond the capabilities of the coachig set up we have. SWBorderer

9:58pm Sat 12 Jan 13

Doberman1 says...

SWBorderer wrote:
We had their seconds in front of us first half and a chance to put them away, so what was the game plan? it seemed to me the only plan was to kick the ball away. In the last 5 minutes, after they had strengthened their side, we showed what can be done when you keep possession instead of kicking it away.

There were enough old heads on there to make the right decisions but you have to blame the leadership, I have not seen one occasion this season where we have appeared to take the field with any idea of a game plan, does Darren even know what a game plan is? I'm sure my Grandson's U14's could tell him.

I appreciate it is difficult to build a strategy around a retreating pack, but we have had that problem long enough now for someone other than Toby to work out how to deal with it, and in the first half we more than held our own in that department.

We are very much a group of (at best) average players, with a couple of exceptions, but a decent coach can still take average players and mould them into a team, that task is way beyond the capabilities of the coachig set up we have.
Completely agree.

As much as I also agree with the majority of posters that the effort was there for all to see on Thursday the bottom line is we still lost, again. A plucky defeat but a defeat nonetheless.

At the risk of again enraging the committee men who post, pro sport requires a pro set up from the front office to the ball boys but certainly in the coaching department - as long as we retain DE we will get what we have always got from him, headless chicken rugby where more often than not we get badly beaten.
[quote][p][bold]SWBorderer[/bold] wrote: We had their seconds in front of us first half and a chance to put them away, so what was the game plan? it seemed to me the only plan was to kick the ball away. In the last 5 minutes, after they had strengthened their side, we showed what can be done when you keep possession instead of kicking it away. There were enough old heads on there to make the right decisions but you have to blame the leadership, I have not seen one occasion this season where we have appeared to take the field with any idea of a game plan, does Darren even know what a game plan is? I'm sure my Grandson's U14's could tell him. I appreciate it is difficult to build a strategy around a retreating pack, but we have had that problem long enough now for someone other than Toby to work out how to deal with it, and in the first half we more than held our own in that department. We are very much a group of (at best) average players, with a couple of exceptions, but a decent coach can still take average players and mould them into a team, that task is way beyond the capabilities of the coachig set up we have.[/p][/quote]Completely agree. As much as I also agree with the majority of posters that the effort was there for all to see on Thursday the bottom line is we still lost, again. A plucky defeat but a defeat nonetheless. At the risk of again enraging the committee men who post, pro sport requires a pro set up from the front office to the ball boys but certainly in the coaching department - as long as we retain DE we will get what we have always got from him, headless chicken rugby where more often than not we get badly beaten. Doberman1

7:34am Mon 14 Jan 13

kalwales@hotmail.com says...

Thanks Guys for cheering me up :-)

FYI - Cast your minds back to when Mr Turner was in charge and people were calling for his head because of losses etc . . . . New Coach came in & honeymoon period was had but nothing Changed so maybe its time to stop blaming the Coaches and look closer to home ???
Thanks Guys for cheering me up :-) FYI - Cast your minds back to when Mr Turner was in charge and people were calling for his head because of losses etc . . . . New Coach came in & honeymoon period was had but nothing Changed so maybe its time to stop blaming the Coaches and look closer to home ??? kalwales@hotmail.com

10:38am Mon 14 Jan 13

welshleper says...

I feel sorry for everyone associated with the Dragons. The WRU basically don't want us, knowone will invest because of this and our loyal supporters who supported the whole regional ethos get left with nothing but empty promises YoY. If I was the board of Newport I would be looking to cut my losses, join the English leagues (if they would let us) and build a Newport side that would be self sufficient and that would be in charge of its own destiny in terms of success. No medling third parties.
I feel sorry for everyone associated with the Dragons. The WRU basically don't want us, knowone will invest because of this and our loyal supporters who supported the whole regional ethos get left with nothing but empty promises YoY. If I was the board of Newport I would be looking to cut my losses, join the English leagues (if they would let us) and build a Newport side that would be self sufficient and that would be in charge of its own destiny in terms of success. No medling third parties. welshleper

11:35am Mon 14 Jan 13

broadsworddan says...

I can't see how joining the English league system would be anything but disastrous. (For a start, they wouldn't want us as we are a welsh team. Our connections with the English rfu ended a long time ago). Our problem is we need more investment. Joining the fourth or fifth tier of the English league would not be attractive for investment. We now need to speculate. We've played safe with our finances for so long and look where it's got us? We are at risk of being downgraded. Whereas the scarlets, blues and ospreys spend themselves into virtual bankruptcy and get a pat on the back for it. It's obvious that we are playing too safe. Investors want to back a team that wants to win. They won't invest in a club that is solely interested in self preservation and couldn't care less whether we win or lose. We must speculate! Or else what's the point? I'm a life long supporter and I am getting bored! We are losing die hard supporters due to the apathy shown by the board. Not really much chance of inspiring a new generation of supporters.
I can't see how joining the English league system would be anything but disastrous. (For a start, they wouldn't want us as we are a welsh team. Our connections with the English rfu ended a long time ago). Our problem is we need more investment. Joining the fourth or fifth tier of the English league would not be attractive for investment. We now need to speculate. We've played safe with our finances for so long and look where it's got us? We are at risk of being downgraded. Whereas the scarlets, blues and ospreys spend themselves into virtual bankruptcy and get a pat on the back for it. It's obvious that we are playing too safe. Investors want to back a team that wants to win. They won't invest in a club that is solely interested in self preservation and couldn't care less whether we win or lose. We must speculate! Or else what's the point? I'm a life long supporter and I am getting bored! We are losing die hard supporters due to the apathy shown by the board. Not really much chance of inspiring a new generation of supporters. broadsworddan

1:29pm Mon 14 Jan 13

let em swing says...

Its all about money, you need investment and competent people at the club with business accumen to spend it and buld, we have neither.
Its all about money, you need investment and competent people at the club with business accumen to spend it and buld, we have neither. let em swing

1:51pm Mon 14 Jan 13

kalwales@hotmail.com says...

broadsworddan wrote:
I can't see how joining the English league system would be anything but disastrous. (For a start, they wouldn't want us as we are a welsh team. Our connections with the English rfu ended a long time ago). Our problem is we need more investment. Joining the fourth or fifth tier of the English league would not be attractive for investment. We now need to speculate. We've played safe with our finances for so long and look where it's got us? We are at risk of being downgraded. Whereas the scarlets, blues and ospreys spend themselves into virtual bankruptcy and get a pat on the back for it. It's obvious that we are playing too safe. Investors want to back a team that wants to win. They won't invest in a club that is solely interested in self preservation and couldn't care less whether we win or lose. We must speculate! Or else what's the point? I'm a life long supporter and I am getting bored! We are losing die hard supporters due to the apathy shown by the board. Not really much chance of inspiring a new generation of supporters.
100% AGREE
[quote][p][bold]broadsworddan[/bold] wrote: I can't see how joining the English league system would be anything but disastrous. (For a start, they wouldn't want us as we are a welsh team. Our connections with the English rfu ended a long time ago). Our problem is we need more investment. Joining the fourth or fifth tier of the English league would not be attractive for investment. We now need to speculate. We've played safe with our finances for so long and look where it's got us? We are at risk of being downgraded. Whereas the scarlets, blues and ospreys spend themselves into virtual bankruptcy and get a pat on the back for it. It's obvious that we are playing too safe. Investors want to back a team that wants to win. They won't invest in a club that is solely interested in self preservation and couldn't care less whether we win or lose. We must speculate! Or else what's the point? I'm a life long supporter and I am getting bored! We are losing die hard supporters due to the apathy shown by the board. Not really much chance of inspiring a new generation of supporters.[/p][/quote]100% AGREE kalwales@hotmail.com

4:25pm Mon 14 Jan 13

corpardguy says...

The effort from the players was there for all to see, but it needs shaping and given direction, like that done at Exeter and Worcester.
"Go out and play your best" doesn't get it at any level and certainly not professional level.
The difference a couple of strong, hard players in key places can make was there for all to see when Tialata arrived the scrums were immediately reversed and Phillips made a huge impression (not just the try) but Bayonne were going forward as soon as he was behind the pack/lineouts
QED:
Need a strong tighthead, need an intimidator(a la Goughie) need a top class scrum and or fly half to set the line going and dictate play as needed.
The effort from the players was there for all to see, but it needs shaping and given direction, like that done at Exeter and Worcester. "Go out and play your best" doesn't get it at any level and certainly not professional level. The difference a couple of strong, hard players in key places can make was there for all to see when Tialata arrived the scrums were immediately reversed and Phillips made a huge impression (not just the try) but Bayonne were going forward as soon as he was behind the pack/lineouts QED: Need a strong tighthead, need an intimidator(a la Goughie) need a top class scrum and or fly half to set the line going and dictate play as needed. corpardguy

4:29pm Mon 14 Jan 13

corpardguy says...

PS from above :
a Good, inspirational coach would also help tremendously. At present I see the players primarily playing for themselves, not the team!
Great effort (again) lads but need more focus on a game plan.
PS from above : a Good, inspirational coach would also help tremendously. At present I see the players primarily playing for themselves, not the team! Great effort (again) lads but need more focus on a game plan. corpardguy

5:45pm Mon 14 Jan 13

speakoutnow says...

Sorry to keep repeating myself but many of the mistakes which we keep repeating and which cost us matches could/should be sorted out on the training paddock!
Case in point..... did Will Harries look like he was expecting the ball to be passed to him to put in a clearing kick following a set piece "move" in our 22 when under severe pressure....don't think so!
Just one of many examples I could mention.
Sorry to keep repeating myself but many of the mistakes which we keep repeating and which cost us matches could/should be sorted out on the training paddock! Case in point..... did Will Harries look like he was expecting the ball to be passed to him to put in a clearing kick following a set piece "move" in our 22 when under severe pressure....don't think so! Just one of many examples I could mention. speakoutnow

5:46pm Mon 14 Jan 13

speakoutnow says...

Sorry to keep repeating myself but many of the mistakes which we keep repeating and which cost us matches could/should be sorted out on the training paddock!
Case in point..... did Will Harries look like he was expecting the ball to be passed to him to put in a clearing kick following a set piece "move" in our 22 when under severe pressure....don't think so!
Just one of many examples I could mention.
Sorry to keep repeating myself but many of the mistakes which we keep repeating and which cost us matches could/should be sorted out on the training paddock! Case in point..... did Will Harries look like he was expecting the ball to be passed to him to put in a clearing kick following a set piece "move" in our 22 when under severe pressure....don't think so! Just one of many examples I could mention. speakoutnow

12:33am Tue 15 Jan 13

Robert Shillabeer says...

speakoutnow wrote:
Sorry to keep repeating myself but many of the mistakes which we keep repeating and which cost us matches could/should be sorted out on the training paddock!
Case in point..... did Will Harries look like he was expecting the ball to be passed to him to put in a clearing kick following a set piece "move" in our 22 when under severe pressure....don't think so!
Just one of many examples I could mention.
Pardon didn't catch that first time? Talk about repeating ones self but posting it twice? I know this site ain't that user friendly, only kidding.
[quote][p][bold]speakoutnow[/bold] wrote: Sorry to keep repeating myself but many of the mistakes which we keep repeating and which cost us matches could/should be sorted out on the training paddock! Case in point..... did Will Harries look like he was expecting the ball to be passed to him to put in a clearing kick following a set piece "move" in our 22 when under severe pressure....don't think so! Just one of many examples I could mention.[/p][/quote]Pardon didn't catch that first time? Talk about repeating ones self but posting it twice? I know this site ain't that user friendly, only kidding. Robert Shillabeer

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