NG Dragons 13 Glasgow Warriors 33: Three talking points
NG Dragons 13 Glasgow Warriors 33: Three talking points as the leaders impress
Warriors slay Dragons to avenge double defeat
On paper, it was always going to be too easy for Gregor Townsend’s men at Rodney Parade – The Sport Review predicted this to be a 20-point win, and so it was (at least we called one right) thanks to Duncan Weir having a bit of a mare with his conversion attempts in his first start of the season. The pitch in Newport is in decent condition this time of year and not even the vocal home support could stop the rampaging Scots as Josh Strauss, Tommy Seymour and Tim Swinson all went over in the second half despite being down to 14 men. It really could have been more with several chances spurned in both halves, notably record try-scorer DTH van der Merwe juggling the ball into touch from one of several astute kicks in behind the defence from Weir with the tryline beckoning. As ever, it’s difficult to single standout Warrior. Alex Dunbar, who scored the opening try after five minutes and was named man of the match, put in a superb shift from outside centre, while Strauss made the game look easy in attack and defence before succumbing to injury in the second half. Leone Nakarawa was again almost unstoppable with his high basketball offloads. Even the mercurial Niko Matawalu looked solid starting at scrum-half, keeping the Warriors attack fizzing at every opportunity, before a knee to the back saw him leave the action. Such is their conditioning, the Warriors could easily have gone down to 13 men and still been too much for a depleted Dragons side, which took a while to get going, but did cause some problems. After last season’s surprise double defeat to the Dragons, Townsend was happy to get a bonus-point win after missing out in their last two matches. The win sees the Warriors go top of the table ahead of Connacht, with the Ospreys not in action again until Edinburgh visit on Sunday.
Big screen no show
Glasgow Warriors flanker Tyrone Holmes may have deserved his red card for an alleged stamp on T Rhys Thomas 35 seconds into the second half, but only those sat beside a TV monitor could judge for themselves. The referee and his touch judges weren’t afforded the chance to see the incident on the big screen and, such is the position of the press box in the back row of Rodney Parade’s Hazel Stand with no TV monitors, only those who caught the incident among a pile of bodies could pass immediate judgement. Who made the decision not to show the incident on the big screen for David Wilkinson and the fans, or was it a case of someone not hooking the screen up properly? Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend was particular vocal at times during the match, directing his ire towards the officials rather than his players – no more so than this incident, which he believes was a yellow card offence for using his foot to attempt to clear the ball. As it transpired, the Warriors were far from weakened by the loss, going on to score three tries and it could have been more. After Dragons lock Andrew Coombs was banned for three weeks for a stamp on Alun Wyn Jones in round two, there is an argument that there was at least consistency. Had the decision been made by the referee, perhaps, but the red card call was entirely from the TMO. It is bad enough when grounds hosting professional rugby don’t have at least one big screen, but to not use it when it is in working order and new broadcaster Sky Sports is covering the match raises questions of integrity and is something the Celtic League needs to address urgently.
Numbers don’t add up for Dragons
The Dragons may have had a numerical advantage for much of the second half, but they could have faced 13 Warriors and still lost. Not through want of trying, but the Warriors are a class or two above the Men of Gwent – even director of rugby Lyn Jones was gushing in his praise of the Glasgow outfit – and it would have taken the mightiest of drop-offs from the Warriors to throw this one away as they did on their last visit to Newport, even an injured Tommy Seymour found the adrenaline to fly over in the corner. It is difficult to believe that even without the considerably injury list that the Dragons could have stolen a win against a Warriors team in such sparkling form. Most people will struggle to recall their Warriors’ last league defeat – not counting the PRO12 final (it was against Leinster, also at the RDS on 1 March, which came six days after their defeat to the Dragons six days earlier). With Jones and head coach Kingsley Jones at the helm, the Welsh region have a more than capable and well-respected management team that will, in time, push the Dragons to become something akin to the Ospreys in their pomp. As with Ospreys, Leinster and more recently Glasgow Warriors, the Dragons are at the start of a multi-year transformation. Success on and off the field didn’t happen overnight for them. Three defeats from three may not look good, but they look better than they were for much of last year and the promise of more to come will be realised with a fully-fit squad and a few players who are in their prime rather than coming to the end of their career. That said, the return of Wales internationals Andy Powell, Lee Byrne and Aled Brew seems to be welcomed at Rodney Parade. There is no lack of pride and passion in Gwent, just a lot of injuries, but how many more times will Lyn Jones be able to get permission from 17-year-old Barney Nightingale’s mother and high school to allow him to play?