NEWPORT Gwent Dragons’ hopes of making the knockout stages of the Amlin Challenge Cup are over after defeat to Bayonne at Rodney Parade this evening.
The French visitors triumphed 22-19 but only after surviving a late Dragons onslaught.
The host hammered away at the Bayonne line but their fate was sealed when the TV match official ruled that they had not managed to sneak over the whitewash.
Combined with last week’s loss to Wasps at Adams Park, it means that it is nigh on impossible for the region to make it into the last eight of the tournament.
The Dragons were first to strike when Tom Brown, a number eight playing blindside, cut a lovely line before charging 30 metres to go under the sticks.
The kickers then took centre stage, Bayonne’s Benjamin Boyet’s brace and Tom Prydie trading penalties to make it 13-6 after a quarter.
Lewis Robling had a golden opportunity to set up the Dragons’ second try approaching the half hour but, with wing Will Harries screaming for the ball on his shoulder, failed to make the killer pass.
That meant the Dragons had to be content with another Prydie three-pointer from their trip to the 22 and they were good value for their 16-6 lead.
But it was all square at half-time after Australian skipper Mark Chisholm barged over following a couple of strong carries by Gabiriele Lovobalavu and Boyet added the conversion and another penalty.
There was more of the same after the break but it was Bayonne who led going into the closing stages thanks to two Boyet strikes to one from Prydie.
And they held on for victory... just.