SAM Davies was the Dragons’ match-winner once again as his last-ditch penalty earned a 13-10 victory over the Cheetahs at a sodden Rodney Parade.

Fly-half Davies punished the visitors after they had tried running the ball from their own line following a missed penalty by the Dragons’ number 10 with the clock in the red.

It was a crazy finish to a largely drab Guinness PRO14 encounter that the Cheetahs had led 10-0 going into half-time.

Man of the match Taine Basham, full-back Will Talbot-Davies and prop Aaron Jarvis started for the Dragons with Huw Taylor, Joe Goodchild and Brok Harris missing out.

A new-look back row saw Basham start at openside, Harri Keddie move to the blindside and Ollie Griffiths switch to number eight.

Talbot-Davies returned after being out of action since injuring his wrist in early January, while Harris failed to recover from the pectoral injury he sustained against Glasgow Warriors a week earlier.

There were also comebacks to the matchday squad for lock Brandon Nansen and back-rower Lewis Evans, joined on the bench by young prop Chris Coleman.

Lock Matthew Screech made his 100th league appearance for the Dragons.

The Cheetahs were dealt a huge blow just before kick-off when captain and scrum-half Ruan Pienaar had to drop out of the XV.

Conditions under foot were tricky to say the least, the heavy pre-match rain turning the Rodney Parade pitch into a real gluepot.

But the Dragons couldn’t blame the playing surface for the visitors’ opening score, which came from Jack Dixon having a kick charged down inside 10 minutes.

The centre did his best to rescue the situation, but Cheetahs openside Junior Pokomela took the ball from a ruck to burrow over. Fly-half Tian Schoeman converted.

The Dragons responded by winning a penalty in a promising position, but Davies, in going for touch, kicked the ball dead, although the weather did play its part.

At the other end, Schoeman made the hosts pay with a three-pointer after the Dragons had been penalised for a ruck infringement.

The South Africans were looking the more likely to score next, and only good covering from Jared Rosser prevented opposite wing Craig Barry gathering his own chip ahead.

Dixon was involved again as the Dragons pressed, however, a chance of getting on the scoreboard went awry when he knocked on 10 metres out.

There was very little to get excited about in the remainder of a largely poor first half.

The home side started the second period much the better, and they eventually got some points when Davies slotted an easy penalty.

He just missed another attempt soon after, before kicking the conversion that brought the hosts level.

The try came from an initial burst by Wales squad member Basham, which was followed by Rosser collecting Dixon’s kick to dive over.

With the game still tied entering the final 10 minutes, you sensed the next score was going to be the match-winner.

Davies thought he would try and win it with six minutes left, but his snap drop-goal didn’t get off the ground.

The Dragons remained on the front foot and, after Davies had tried, and failed, to win it with a long-range penalty right on 80 minutes, he was then given another opportunity.

It stemmed from the visitors, who clearly didn’t want to settle for a draw, moving the ball out wide, only to be pinged by referee Andrew Brace on their own 22.

Davies held his nerve to slot the penalty and raise the roof at Rodney Parade.

Dragons: W Talbot-Davies; J Rosser, A Warren, J Dixon, A Hewitt; S Davies, R Williams (capt); A Jarvis, E Shipp, L Fairbrother, J Davies, M Screech, H Keddie, T Basham, O Griffiths. Reps: R Lawrence, J Reynolds, C Coleman, B Nansen, L Evans, T Knoyle, J Botica, J Goodchild.

Cheetahs: C Blommetjies; R Smith, W Small-Smith, B J van Rensburg, C Barry; T Schoeman, T Meyer (capt); B Venter, W Arnoldi, L de Bruin, S Manjezi, W Steenkamp, G Olivier, J Pokomela, A Davis. Reps: J Dweba, C Marais, A Coetzee, JP du Preez, S Koen, R Maxwane, L Fouche, C Smit.

Referee: Andrew Brace

Attendance: 4,102

Argus star man: Taine Basham