THE SIZE of the victory was comfortable but Newport Gwent Dragons didn’t have thing all their own way when beating Lydney 36-0 in a pre-season friendly.
The Rodney Parade region ran in five tries at Regentsholme but their part-time hosts produced a tenacious display to ensure it was a valuable, injury-free exercise rather than a complete mismatch.
The game had been arranged as a favour for Lydney coach Duncan Bell, who helped the Dragons out of a spot of bother by coming out of retirement to play tighthead last season.
And when it was announced before kick-off that the electronic scoreboard was not working one feared that it was because the operator didn’t want a stressful bank holiday Sunday recording try after try.
However, the Dragons’ side of youth with a scattering of experience enjoyed a good tussle with their hosts from England’s National Two South, with some gnarled home campaigners giving them a tough time at the breakdown.
There was a family fun day at Regentsholme and it wasn’t long ago that plenty of the Dragons side would have got in free and headed to the bouncy castle.
But it wasn’t just a group of kids in the visitors’ ranks – there were a handful of players in the squad that will be looking to feature in the Guinness Pro12 opener against Connacht in Galway, let alone Friday’s glamour friendly against English champions Northampton in Ebbw Vale.
Led by Lewis Evans, voted as the Argus Dragon of the Year after he featured in all of the region’s Pro12 games in 2013/14, the visitors were on the whole focused in a game that they were clearly going to dominate.
Such friendlies carry a different type of pressure for the pros; impress and it’s only against a bunch of part-timers while a disappointing display is exacerbated by the fact it was against a lower league team.
But that is not to put down Lydney, in fact they were perfect opposition for a fixture to sit between Bristol and Northampton.
They were tenacious, spirited and motivated against a Dragons team with plenty of green players.
The value of fielding Lee Byrne, Aled Brew, Taulupe Faletau & Co at Regentsholme would have been dubious but the 20-and-belows would have gained plenty from the workout.
The Dragons were going at a point a minute when they led 10-0 after 10 courtesy of a penalty try from a dominant scrum and five points from the left peg of Geraint Rhys Jones.
But the hosts dug in to stem the flow by whatever means possible, giving the region a headache at the contact area.
It took until the 32nd minute for the Dragons to stretch their lead, flanker Scott Matthews finishing off after Evans was inches shy of the line off another strong scrum.
Jones added the extras and the visitors had to be content with a 17-0 lead at the break.
The impressive Matthews swiftly extended that when he gathered an overthrown Lydney lineout with one hand before charging over and Dorian Jones followed him over the whitewash following a quick tap penalty by replacement scrum-half Owen Davies.
It looked like the floodgates would open when wing Matthew Pewtner finished powerfully down the left after 56 minutes to make it 36-0 but, to Lydney’s credit, that was the end of the scoring.
Lydney: T Wicks, J Hannam, J Rodgers, D Scourfield, C Holder, J Innes, E Rees, J Perks, M Wallis, A Ledner, B Scriven (captain), D Bennett, L Jackson, M Boobyer, C Daniell. Replacements: Farrier, Merritt, Forlan, Evans, Wheeler, Taylor, Wyman, Goldstone, Barnes, O’Neill, Kell, O’Connell, Lakabuka
Dragons: G R Jones, M Pewtner, B Nightingale (G Gasson 76), A Coad (O Davies 40), G Gasson (T Morgan 65), D Jones (D Young 71), R Rees (A O’Brien 35), O Evans (L Garrett 40), H Gustafson (R Buckley 28-76), D Young (D Way 40), S Andrews, C Hill (M Screech 40), J Thomas, S Matthews, L Evans (captain, O Griffiths 35).
Scorers: tries – penalty, S Matthews (2), D Jones, M Pewtner; conversions – G R Jones (4); penalty – G R Jones