Wasps 38 Dragons 25

IT’S nights like the one at Adams Park on Saturday that hammer home the loss of Dan Lydiate.

While the Wales blindside flanker watched on television, his Newport Gwent Dragons team-mates were overpowered by London Wasps in an Amlin Challenge Cup encounter that wasn’t as close as the scoreline suggests.

Not only did the Dragons miss the defensive steel and hard-nosed graft of Lydiate, but his absence has sent ripples throughout the team.

The need to put someone else’s name next to 6 on the teamsheet has given the region’s coaches problems akin to solving a Rubik’s cube; your efforts at shifting things around to solve one panel just lead to troubles elsewhere.

The Dragons opted to give Tom Brown – an out-and-out number eight – the start at blindside on Saturday evening.

The thinking behind the selection would have been to add to their ball-carrying options, given that he was slotting into the back row with Toby Faletau.

That meant that they needed the contact area skills of Jevon Groves at lock, yet the 24-year-old (a back-row forward by trade) lacks the grunt and bulk to be a top lock.

It was a lack of oomph up front that was once again the Dragons’ downfall in the four- tries-to-three defeat.

Wasps had lock Marco Wentzel masterminding a lineout that provided a steady stream of possession and they won the battle of the collisions despite the inclusion of both Brown and Faletau.

With South African blindside Ashley Johnson prominent alongside young England prospects Billy Vunipola and the magnificent Joe Launchbury, the hosts were constantly on the front foot.

The Dragons, meanwhile, had to try to do their best without a platform up front with Wales number eight Toby Faletau often having to field a greasy ball under pressure, and his skills at the base of the scrum aren’t always the best anyway Such problems up front mean changes elsewhere are like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. A struggling tight five is a familiar problem, and one that can only be solved with investment.

Despite all their problems the Dragons did fight back with spirit and were pressing for a pair of bonus points at the death.

But that would have just papered over the cracks because they were comfortably second best to a Wasps side that are no great shakes, as is shown by their struggles in the Aviva Premiership.

The Dragons made a dream start when centre Adam Hughes – all 14st 6lb of him – did his impression of Jonah Lomu to send Scotland full-back Hugo Southwell sprawling on his way to the try line.

It was a score that gave hope of an evening of flowing rugby for the visitors after fly-half Lewis Robling and teenage wing Hallam Amos combined wonderfully to put their number 13 clear.

However, things were looking grim for the Dragons after the first quarter.

Wentzel’s delightful offload put wing Jack Wallace in down the right, Italian tighthead Fabio Staibano added a second, former Wales fly-half Nicky Robinson kicked 10 points and visiting full-back Dan Evans was sin-binned for taking out scrum-half Joe Simpson without the ball (necessary to save seven points).

Grim got grimmer when A-level student Amos made a schoolboy error – he attempted to put his right boot over his line when grounding the kick through to earn a drop out from the 22 but the ball had stopped rolling. The result was a five-metre scrum and Vunipola duly crashed over.

There was a brief rally when replacement loosehead Owen Evans scored on debut, with Robling adding a conversion and penalty to make it 25-15 at half-time.

Had the Dragons come out firing in the second half then it could have been interesting.

Instead they made a hash of the restart and allowed Wasps to get on the front foot to earn three penalties, two of which Robinson kicked.

Joe Simpson secured Wasps’ bonus point on the hour and the English outfit took their eye off the ball.

That allowed 17-year-old replacement centre Jack Dixon to cross for the Dragons’ third try and they were in a position to push for a pair of bonus points at the death.

In a repeat of their RaboDirect Pro12 defeat at Leinster, those hopes were crushed by a botched lineout in the opposition’s 22.

But in all honesty the Dragons could have few complaints about heading home with nothing to show for their efforts.

Comments (5)

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8:02am Mon 15 Oct 12

kalwales@hotmail.com says...

SAME OLD STORY also soo many silly penalties which cost your region the game, my sympathy is with the fans who stand by the region but from where i am standing they get nothing in return from the region or management or board !
SAME OLD STORY also soo many silly penalties which cost your region the game, my sympathy is with the fans who stand by the region but from where i am standing they get nothing in return from the region or management or board ! kalwales@hotmail.com

9:11am Mon 15 Oct 12

Dai Trying says...

To put this defeat down to the loss of Lydiate, is I fear papering over some rather larger cracks. An experianced 7 would have been a help, not playing our second best 6 in the second row would also have helped. Lewis Evans in NOT a 7, he is just not quick enough, great 6 or 8, maybe even an option at at 4 or 5. Forward power and organisation is poor, but it is not helped by some rather dubious player selections and what appears to be very coaching and planning.
To put this defeat down to the loss of Lydiate, is I fear papering over some rather larger cracks. An experianced 7 would have been a help, not playing our second best 6 in the second row would also have helped. Lewis Evans in NOT a 7, he is just not quick enough, great 6 or 8, maybe even an option at at 4 or 5. Forward power and organisation is poor, but it is not helped by some rather dubious player selections and what appears to be very coaching and planning. Dai Trying

9:29am Mon 15 Oct 12

broadsworddan says...

Kalwales, you are in danger of becoming very boring!
Kalwales, you are in danger of becoming very boring! broadsworddan

12:32pm Mon 15 Oct 12

Drag_Fan says...

kalwales, OK we get it - you don't like the Dragons, you hate the management/board/off
icials. You've told everyone more than once - we get the message. Can we get back to discussing the game? To pick up on the first point you made, yes there were far too many penalties, most of them for silly/trivial things. This is usually a very good pointer to the fact that a team is being outplayed. I'm a Dragons fan and it hurts to admit it but I think the standard of the Dragons play matches theier position in the league. The team needs more than a new coach - it needs a core of good quality players. You can be the best coach in the world but it doesn't help you if you don't have good players. No disrespect to the current crop of players but most of them would struggle to look good in any regional team.
kalwales, OK we get it - you don't like the Dragons, you hate the management/board/off icials. You've told everyone more than once - we get the message. Can we get back to discussing the game? To pick up on the first point you made, yes there were far too many penalties, most of them for silly/trivial things. This is usually a very good pointer to the fact that a team is being outplayed. I'm a Dragons fan and it hurts to admit it but I think the standard of the Dragons play matches theier position in the league. The team needs more than a new coach - it needs a core of good quality players. You can be the best coach in the world but it doesn't help you if you don't have good players. No disrespect to the current crop of players but most of them would struggle to look good in any regional team. Drag_Fan

1:25pm Mon 15 Oct 12

Robert Shillabeer says...

broadsworddan wrote:
Kalwales, you are in danger of becoming very boring!
Not becoming very boring already is boring. He says nothing of interest to real Dragons supporters and is anti authority be it in the WRU or Dragons in particular. It would be interesting to know why has he been banned or something by them and is trying to get back at someone? He says he is a qualified ref, but what evidence is there to support that and does he really ref any games?
[quote][p][bold]broadsworddan[/bold] wrote: Kalwales, you are in danger of becoming very boring![/p][/quote]Not becoming very boring already is boring. He says nothing of interest to real Dragons supporters and is anti authority be it in the WRU or Dragons in particular. It would be interesting to know why has he been banned or something by them and is trying to get back at someone? He says he is a qualified ref, but what evidence is there to support that and does he really ref any games? Robert Shillabeer

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