MATCH REPORT: Cardiff maintained their impressive winning run over Dragons with a hard-fought 29-24 United Rugby Championship[ win in a thrilling derby at Rodney Parade.
The Gwent region hasn’t beaten their fierce rivals since December 2014 and while Dragons competed fiercely, the visitors just held an attacking edge which saw them score four tries to two – but it took them until the last minute to secure victory.
Tomos Williams scored two tries for Cardiff, Josh Adams and Corey Domachowski the others, with Jarrod Evans kicking a penalty and three conversions.
Rio Dyer and Harrison Keddie grabbed Dragons’ tries with JJ Hanrahan adding four penalties and a conversion.
A burst from Adams took Cardiff into the opposition’s 22 but Rhys Priestland was unable to give them an early lead as his penalty attempt from the touchline sailed wide.
Dragons then had the first try-scoring opportunity when a thrilling run down the left-hand touchline saw Ashton Hewitt evade a couple of defenders to touch down but the wing was adjudged to have put a foot in touch.
The home side suffered another blow when hooker Bradley Roberts was yellow-carded for kicking out at Thomas Young, with the Cardiff flanker lucky to escape a similar sanction for his retaliation.
However, the Dragons were still first to score with two penalties in quick succession from Hanrahan before Roberts returned from the sin-bin with no damage done to the scoreboard.
Cardiff was second best in the opening half-hour but they raised their game to score the opening try. Surges from Rhys Carre and Taulupe Faletau put the defence on the back foot for Williams to score.
Priestland was injured in the movement to depart with an ankle injury so it was his replacement Evans who converted to put his side in front.
Two minutes later the visitors scored again when an alert Williams took the action to the blindside where skilful passing provided Adams with an easy run-in.
Evans converted but the Dragons remained in contention with their first try.
Hewitt again skinned Owen Lane on the outside and when the ball was recycled, excellent distribution culminated with Dyer flying over in the corner to leave his side trailing 14-11 at the interval.
Cardiff extended their advantage 11 minutes after the restart when Adams chipped through for Williams to collect and score his second try.
Cardiff lost Adams with a leg injury before Hanrahan and Evans exchanged penalties to set up a tense final quarter.
Dragons struck next when Keddie crashed over from a driving line-out which Hanrahan converted before he kicked his fourth penalty to put his side in front with nine minutes remaining.
Ben Thomas missed a long-range penalty for Cardiff but they stole victory with 40 seconds left on the clock with a try from Domachowski, who drove over from close range, with Evans adding the extras.
Player of the match
Wales scrumhalf Tomos Williams was the difference between the sides as it was his attacking spark that always flickered. He was rewarded with two of his side’s tries and had a key hand in creating the third.
Play of the match
Both Dragons’ wings looked huge threats. None more so for Dragons’ first try when Hewitt exploded past Lane only to be dragged down metres short but when the ball was swiftly moved to the other flank, Dyer showed his speed and skills to crash over.
Tries: Dyer, Keddie
Pens: Hanrahan 4
Tries: Williams 2, Adams, Domachowski
Cons: Evans 3
Yellow card: Bradley Roberts (Dragons, 15)
Dragons: 15 Angus O’Brien, 14 Rio Dyer, 13 Steff Hughes, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Harri Keddie (captain), 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 George Nott, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Chris Coleman, 2 Bradley Roberts, 1 Rhodri Jones.
Replacements: 16 Brodie Coghlan, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Sean Lonsdale, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Sio Tomkinson
Cardiff: 15 Josh Adams, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Ben Thomas, 11 Theo Cabango, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Josh Turnbull (captain), 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Lopeti Timani, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Liam Belcher, 1 Rhys Carré.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Will Davies-King, 19 Seb Davies, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Mason Grady.
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Mike English (Wales) and Aled Evans (Wales)
TMO: Sean Brickell (Wales)