Match Report: Newport-Gwent Dragons 12-19 Ulster Rugby

Ruan Pienaar

Ruan Pienaar came on as a sub

Ulster hung on to the bitter end at Rodney Parade to record their first away win of the season, defeating the Newport-Gwent Dragons in the Guinness PRO12 by a scoreline of 19-12.

A Paul Marshall try proved to be the difference between the two teams, while Dorian Jones and Paddy Jackson traded penalties with both fly-halves notching four each.

The win keeps Ulster in touch at the top of the table and will give them a lot of confidence heading into the Champions’ Cup matches against Oyonnax and Saracens in the next two weeks.

Ulster were immediately under pressure when debutant Stephen Mulholland knocked it on from the kick-off, however their defence was solid and managed to ensure they did not fall behind within the first three minutes.

But they were unable to hold out for too long, and having pinned Ulster back in their own 22, the Dragons were the first to strike through a Dorian Jones penalty in the 10th minute.

Jones then doubled the Dragons’ lead in the 16th minute with a further penalty that also yielded a yellow card for Ulster centre Stuart McCloskey after he was adjudged to have tripped Jones earlier in the play.

A third Jones penalty midway through the second half stretched the home side’s lead to 9-0, with the hosts completely dominating proceedings.

But despite having a man less Ulster battled back through a powerful driving maul and Paddy Jackson finally got the visitors on the board through a 26th minute penalty.

With points on the board Ulster were beginning to grow in confidence with ball in hand and Jackson was on hand to slot over another penalty just before the break to reduce the half time arrears to three.

Straight after the break Ulster went on the attack and Darren Cave nearly scored, however the TMO correctly adjudged that he lost the ball inches from the line.

Instead referee Dudley Phillips went back for a penalty and sin binned Dragons captain Rynard Landman for a cynical infringement, but a scrappy Ulster scrum granted the Dragons a momentary reprieve.

That reprieve lasted just three minutes as the visitors, with an extra man, pummelled the Dragons defensive line and gap appeared on the blindside long enough for Paul Marshall to snipe through in his usual fashion.

Paddy Jackson added the extras from under the posts and Ulster had fought back from nine points down to lead 13-9 after 51 minutes.

Despite seeing Rory Best and Ruan Pienaar return to the field for the first time this season, it was the Dragons who suddenly found themselves on the ascendancy and they also found themselves a man up in the 60th minute when the returning Best went to the bin.

Jones landed his fourth penalty of the afternoon from the resulting penalty, while Paddy Jackson pushed an effort wide before landing his third before the 70 minute mark.

Despite being a man down in the scrum, the Ulster pack put in a huge push from a scrum straight after the restart allowing Jackson to land a penalty from the halfway line to put Ulster’s lead out to seven with seven minutes to go.

The Dragons assaulted the Ulster line desperately in the last few minutes looking for the score that could get them the draw, but after four minutes of extra time a crucial turnover from Rory Best handed Ulster their first away win of the season.

 

The scorers

For N-G Dragons

Pens: Jones (4)

For Ulster

Try: Marshall

Con: Jackson

Pens: Jackson (4)

 

NEWPORT-GWENT DRAGONS

(15-9) Carl Meyer (Jason Tovey 27), Ashton Hewitt, Adam Hughes, Adam Warren, Nick Scott, Dorian Jones (Ross Wardle 72), Sarel Pretorius (Charlie Davies 62); (1-8) Boris Stankovich (Phil Price 68), Elliott Dee (Rhys Buckley 68), Shaun Knight (Brok Harris 51), Cory Hill (Matthew Screech 68), Rynard Landman, Ed Jackson (Lewis Evans 64), Ollie Griffiths, Taulupe Faletau.

Yellow card: Rynard Landman (43’)

 

ULSTER RUGBY

(15-9) Peter Nelson, Rory Scholes, Darren Cave, Stuart McCloskey, Sammy Arnold (Craig Gilroy 59), Paddy Jackson, Paul Marshall (Ruan Pienaar 55); (1-8) Kyle McCall, Rob Herring (Rory Best 53), Wiehahn Herbst (Ricky Lutton 66), Dan Tuohy, Franco van der Merwe (Lewis Stevenson 74), Robbie Diack, Chris Henry, Stephen Mulholland (Sean Reidy 68).

Subs not used: Bronson Ross, Ian Humphreys.

Yellow cards: Stuart McCloskey (15’), Rory Best (61’)

 

Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ire)