SIX penalties by fly-half Steffan Jones earned Newport Gwent Dragons a hard-earned LV= Cup win against the Ospreys at a sodden Rodney Parade this evening.
The west Walians crossed for the only try of the game but the hosts sneaked home thanks to the unerring right boot of their number 10.
The Dragons’ hopes of making the semi-finals were only mathematical when they woke up this morning and by kick-off they had gone, Harlequins’ victory against London Welsh at the Stoop putting them English champions out of reach.
But they still had plenty of motivation given that they headed into the game on the back of five defeats.
They duly ended that streak, but it wasn’t pretty in horrendous conditions.
And the result was somewhat overshadowed by what looked like a serious ankle injury suffered by popular winger Mike Poole in the first minute.
The 26-year-old, who has suffered serious ligament damage to both knees, took a blow when carrying the ball hard in the first minute and was stretchered off with his ankle in an inflatable brace.
The whistle of Llyr Ap Geraint-Roberts, the English official with a Welsh name, was the dominant feature of a pretty poor first half.
He awarded 15 penalties and dished out yellow cards to both number eights, the Dragons’ Ieuan Jones and the Ospreys’ Morgan Allen (formerly of Pontypool).
The score was 9-9 as the teams headed to the changing rooms to dry out and warm up, Steffan Jones and Matthew Morgan booting three penalties apiece.
The visitors had the benefit of the wind at their backs in the first half so the Dragons, who started well but tailed off, would have been confident of claiming the victory.
Yet it was the Ospreys that played the better rugby at the start of the second half with full-back Jamie Murphy and Morgan to the fore.
That didn’t show on the scoreboard, however, with Jones edging the hosts in front with yet another penalty.
Back came the Ospreys and after wing Matthew Pewtner made a hash of fielding the ball on his line, the visitors piled the pressure on before Wales back row forward Jonathan Thomas barged over.
The inexperienced Ospreys looked set to take the spoils but thankfully Jones’ hot streak from the tee continued and his fifth and sixth penalties secured a hard-earned win.
Dragons scorers: penalties - S Jones (6)
Ospreys scorers: try - J Thomas; penalties - M Morgan (3)