|Pro14: Dragons v Connacht|
|Dragons (21) 21|
|Tries: Amos, Dee Con: Henson Pens: Henson (3)|
|Connacht (3) 8|
|Try: Roux Pen: Carty|
The Dragons notched up their first win under new coach Bernard Jackman as they beat his former side Connacht 21-8 despite a string of injuries.
Hallam Amos and Elliot Dee crossed for the home side in the first quarter, with Gavin Henson kicking 11 points.
But the Dragons lost international backs Zane Kirchner and Tyler Morgan, as well as Jared Rosser to injuries within the first 35 minutes.
Quinn Roux crossed in Connacht’s second-half fight-back.
Amos became the Dragons’ first try-scorer of the season inside two minutes, with Jack Dixon’s break from inside his own half well supported for the Wales wing to finish off a sparkling opener.
Jack Carty pulled a penalty back, but man-of-the-match Dee barged over from close range in the 20th minute for Henson to convert.
Three penalties from Henson’s boot stretched the interval lead to 21-3, one of them after Connacht lock James Cannon was yellow-carded for impeding a Sarel Pretorius tap penalty.
But injuries disrupted much of the first half with South Africa full-back Kirchner departing early to hospital with a dislocated shoulder, to be followed off by opposite number Tiernan O’Halloran.
Kirchner’s replacement Rosser and Wales three-quarter Morgan both went off after 35 minutes to force a mass re-shuffle.
Not surprisingly the Dragons could not maintain their furious tempo and Connacht dominated much of the third quarter, with a line-out catch and drive credited to Roux their reward on 53 minutes.
But Kieran Keane’s side made too many handling errors to make their most of their improved share of territory and possession, and the Dragons’ stern defence held out to earn their first win since January, to the delight of the noisy Rodney Parade crowd.
Dragons coach Bernard Jackman told BBC Sport Wales:
“Tonight you saw some of our attacking shape and some of our defensive shape against a quality opposition. We had such a makeshift backline in the second half we had to close the game down a bit, but the first half we looked really dangerous.
“I really liked the way the players trusted their skill-set (for the Amos try), we played with real width. We’ve got lots of skill in this team, we just need to bring the physicality which we did tonight.
“Zane’s gone to hospital with a dislocated shoulder, Tyler got a bang in the ribs but hopefully that’s not as serious, Jared got a bang on the hip but the bench came on and did a job.”
Connacht coach Kieran Keane:
“We had some good spells, particularly in the second haldf when we came back really strong, but we had a poor start and gifted them a couple of tries.
“We had our backs against the wall but I really liked the grit we showed, so there were some good things to come out of it.”
Dragons: Zane Kirchner; Ashton Hewitt, Tyler Morgan, Jack Dixon, Hallam Amos; Gavin Henson, Sarel Pretorius; Brok Harris, Elliot Dee, Leon Brown, Rynard Landman, Cory Hill (capt), Harrison Keddie, Ollie Griffiths, James Benjamin.
Replacements: Gerard Ellis, Thomas Davies, Lloyd Fairbrother, Matthew Screech, Robson Blake, Owain Leonard, Dorian Jones, Jared Rosser.
Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran; Darragh Leader, Tom Farrell, Bundee Aki, Rory Scholes; Jack Carty, Caolin Blade; Denis Coulson, Tom McCartney, Conor Carey, Quinn Roux, James Cannon, Eoghan Masterson, Jake Heenan, John Muldoon (capt).
Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Peter McCabe, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Jarrad Butler, Kieran Marmion, Steve Crosbie, Eoin Griffin.
Referee: Quinten Immelman (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Craig Evans, Rhys Thomas (both Wales)