A SECOND-HALF try blitz – including two penalty tries – saw Worcester power to a convincing European Challenge Cup win against a lacklustre Newport Gwent Dragons at Sixways.

The Dragons only trailed 7-6 at half-time but conceded three tries in the third quarter to see their chances of victory dissipate before Ashton Hewitt’s late brace.

Worcester were down to 13 men at one stage of the first half but the Dragons couldn’t make the most of their numerical advantage.

And, as Brok Harris and then Leon Brown saw yellow after the turnaround, the visitors’ scrum took a beating, although the signs had been there in the opening period.

In terms of quality, the first half left a lot to be desired, with no real try-scoring chances until the last play of the period when the hosts got their noses in front.

The incessant rain didn’t help matters but there was no blame apportioned to the artificial pitch which prevented the match turning into a real mudbath.

Up front, the early signs weren’t good for the Dragons, especially at scrum time, as the visitors were penalised on Worcester ball three minutes in.

It wouldn’t be the last time the Dragons felt the wrath of the referee’s whistle when packing down against their Aviva Premiership opponents.

Anyway, five minutes later the Welsh region were ahead when Angus O’Brien struck a drop-goal straight through the uprights.

Things got worse for the home side as flanker Sam Betty saw yellow for some foul play at a ruck – and minutes later he was joined in the sin bin by teammate Christian Scotland-Williamson.

Before the lock was carded for a trip on full-back Tom Prydie as the Dragons man looked to counter from his own 22, O’Brien doubled the lead with a penalty.

There was bad news for the Dragons on 20 minutes when they lost flanker Nic Cudd to injury, Harri Keddie replaced him.

If the Dragons did have a try-scoring chance in the first half then it was the one almost taken by scrum-half Sarel Pretorius, who couldn’t quite get on the end of a Prydie offload.

New Worcester signing Connor Braid, the Canada fly-half, missed a relatively easy opportunity to halve the deficit with a penalty of his own.

The quality of rugby on show in the opening 40 minutes was summed up by a shocking Sam Beard pass that cleared Hewitt and flew into touch.

It seemed that the Dragons were going to go into the break with a 6-0 lead but with the last play of the half they eventually succumbed to the power of Worcester’s pack.

A succession of phases finished with prop Val Rapava Ruskin barging over for Braid to convert.

The Dragons weren’t to know it sitting in the changing room at the interval but within 20 minutes of the second half starting the game would be out of their reach.

First, wing Dean Hammond flew over in the corner and, after a brilliant last-ditch O’Brien tackle to deny Ben Howard in the corner, Worcester forced the first of two penalty tries.

Dragons prop Harris had been sin-binned for killing the scrum – Brown replaced him and the Dragons had to sacrifice flanker James Thomas – when the first of those tries arrived.

Sam Hobbs and Rynard Landman had come off the bench for the visitors between the two scores, while Tavis Knoyle, Jack Dixon and Elliot Dee all followed suit following the third Worcester try.

Things went from bad to worse for the Dragons soon after as Brown was also yellow-carded and the Warriors pulverised the Dragons’ scrum to register another five-pointer that was turned into seven by Braid.

The game was over at that point after a shocking third quarter for the Dragons, though they did score two very late tries to give the scoreboard a semblance of respectability.

Both were scored by Hewitt, and both were not in keeping with the Dragons’ massively below-par display.

The first one saw him cut in from the left, slip, but still have enough momentum to get up and scamper over.

The second was the pick of the two, with the speedster receiving the ball just outside his own 22, chipping ahead, regathering and fending off the last man to touch down.

All in all, very sobering experience for the Dragons against a Worcester side that had made 14 changes from their previous match in the Premiership against Wasps.

Worcester: J Adams (A Short 75); B Howard, M Stelling, R Mills (capt), D Hammond; C Braid, G DeCothi; V Rapava Ruskin (R Bower 60), J Singleton, B Alo (M Daniels 60), W Spencer (A Kitchener 60), C Scotland-Williamson (M Williams 75), S Betty (H Taylor 66), C Kirwan (C Hewitt 69), M Cox. Reps: J Shillcock.

Scorers: tries - Rapava Ruskin, Hammond, penalty try (2), Stelling; cons - Braid (4)

Dragons: T Prydie; T Morgan, S Beard (J Dixon 53), A Warren (GR Jones 69), A Hewitt; A O'Brien, S Pretorius (T Knoyle 51); P Price (S Hobbs 45), R Buckley (E Dee 54), B Harris, M Screech, C Hill (R Landman 45), J Thomas (L Brown 47-58, B Harris 58-69), N Cudd (H Keddie 20), L Evans (capt).

Scorers: tries - Hewitt (2); cons - A O'Brien (2); pen - A O'Brien; DG - A O'Brien

Referee: Thomas Charabas

Attendance: 7,168