NEWPORT Gwent Dragons suffered a 16-5 loss to Cardiff Blues at Rodney Parade in the RaboDirect Pro12 this evening.
It was nip and tuck throughout in a low-quality encounter until a pair of late penalties by visiting young gun Rhys Patchell killed off the Dragons.
In the end it was the breakdown prowess of Wales skipper Sam Warburton and his fellow flanker Josh Navidi that did for the hosts – most of the 16 penalties that they conceded came at the contact area.
It was a scrappy, error-strewn first half but the Dragons wouldn’t have complained as they headed to their changing room with a 5-3 lead.
Mistakes, wrong options and penalties at the fiercely-contested breakdown were the theme of a frustrating yet engaging first 40 minutes.
Patchell missed a penalty for the Blues before both Tom Prydie and Steffan Jones failed with shots at goal, the latter striking both post and crossbar from 52 metres.
Patchell got the visitors on the scoreboard on 36 minutes but the Dragons struck straight back, Steffan Jones going over to send Rodney Parade wild after important assists from Pat Leach, Lewis Evans and Phil Price.
The Blues were reduced to 14 men when Nathan Trevett was sin-binned for killing the ball yet it was the visitors who struck while the prop was in the sin bin, Adam Jones’ fumble gifting Alex Cuthbert a run-in for a try that Patchell converted.
The errors continued both out of hand and from the tee with both Prydie and Patchell failing with three-pointers.
But Patchell made no mistake with a late brace that meant the Dragons didn’t even have a bonus point to show for their efforts on a grim night.
Dragons scorer: try – Steffan Jones
Blues scorers: try – A Cuthbert; conversion – R Patchell; penalties – R Patchell (3)