THE Dragons beat Enisei-STM 47-5 at Rodney Parade and progressed into the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup. Here are the talking points from a tense last round of Pool One…


The Dragons should send Castres scrum-half Rory Kockott, the former France international from South Africa, a case of red from his two countries for the way that he managed the closing stages at Sixways.

The 33-year-old inspired the Top 14 strugglers to a win in Worcester that earned top spot in Pool One, scoring a hat-trick and controlling matters.

READ MORE: The match report - Dragons 47 Enisei 5

His exploits actually made it a nervy evening as the Dragons were looking good when Worcester led by 15 points early in the second half.

Castres worked back to trail by a point with a bonus in the bag, leaving the Rodney Parade region in peril as a fourth Worcester try would have dashed the quarter-final hopes.

But Kockott completed his hat-trick and then kept the Warriors at arm’s length at the death, protecting the Dragons’ place in the quarter-finals.


There was relief with a couple of minutes left when the Dragons were secure of their five-point haul and Castres had got the job done in Worcester, yet it was a nightmare evening.

Us pessimists had the nagging feeling that the region would suffer the freak result to send them tumbling out.

That wasn’t helped at half-time by Worcester and Castres both having two tries apiece and the outcome was in the balance until the bitter end.

It wasn’t an enjoyable couple of hours (especially with a 10pm print deadline looming!) with the Dragons spluttering and things not going to plan in the West Midlands, but all’s well that ends well.

The Dragons are in the quarter-finals for the fourth time - and they haven't lost one yet.

South Wales Argus:


Key to the Dragons getting the job done early would have been to play at tempo and stretch Enisei-STM but instead it was a scrappy affair in the first half dominated by the whistle of referee Joy Neville.

That was of course partly down to player error but the finickity Irish official made it a sluggish game.

Scrums took an absolute age and the former Ireland back row forward allowed the Russians to slow things down.

“I’ve never really experienced 40 minutes like that,” said Dragons director of rugby Dean Ryan. “At half-time I wasn’t too sure what to say.

“We talked about taking the game to some very simple things so that we could make sure we got the bonus point because we didn’t feel there was any momentum in the first 40 minutes at all.”

That lack of momentum was part Dragons, part Neville after a whistle-happy half, although refs are allowed off-nights as well.

South Wales Argus:


At the start of the season the odds would have been long on the Dragons fielding a starting back three of Carwyn Penny, Jared Rosser and Rio Dyer.

They would have been outrageously long on them finishing a game with a trio of fly-half Jacob Botica at full-back, scrum-half Luke Baldwin on the left wing and fly-half-turned-full-back Carwyn Penny down the right (after Adam Warren had earlier moved there).

Injuries to Rosser (eye) and Dyer (shoulder) are added to a list featuring Ashton Hewitt (calf), Jordan Williams (knee), Will Talbot-Davies (wrist), Owen Jenkins (ankle) and Dafydd Howells (elbow).

There is a long break until the Guinness PRO14 resumes in mid-February but the Dragons are down to the bare bones in the back three and are already leaning heavily on young prospects to do the work of men.

Opportunity knocks.


Enisei have been the Pool One whipping boys but they are an imposing bunch, which meant it was a good chance for back row forward Harri Keddie to show what he is about.

The flanker learnt in the afternoon that he would be promoted from the bench to the XV because Taine Basham was ill and he grasped his chance.

The 23-year-old was confrontational and abrasive yet he also showed lovely hands to set up Rosser for the second try and scored the third himself with a well-taken interception.

The Dragons are blessed with back row riches but this was an important statement by a talented player.

Keddie has performed strongly off the bench of late but he is going to be a leading figure while Aaron Wainwright and Ross Moriarty are on Six Nations duty.

Time for him to show he deserves to be a starter in the big game rather than missing out to the Wales duo, Ollie Griffiths and Taine Basham.