After going in at the break 21-9 down with three penalties from Dorian Jones, an early second-half try from versatile prop Brok Harris to take the score to 21-16 gave the Welsh region hope of producing another stunning comeback, but they were ripped apart by the Scots, who ran in a total of five tries to become the first Scottish club to reach a European final.
Edinburgh, who are one place above the Dragons in the Guinness PRO12, went into the game on the back of a 34-3 thumping at the hands of Munster and made five personnel changes to their starting XV compared to the Dragons’ solitary change.
Much of the talk in the build-up to the game centred around the promise of the Dragons’ young backline trio of Hallam Amos, Jack Dixon and Tyler Morgan, and the region’s impressive comeback wins over Cardiff Blues and Leinster, as well a string of impressive away wins at Stade Francais, Newcastle Falcons, Leinster and Benetton Treviso.
But it was the Scots who hit the ground running with 21-year-old scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne’s impressive season continuing as he kicked 20 points off the tee in addition to a breakaway try in the second half.
To compound a slew of individual errors, indiscipline also proved costly for Jones’s side with Taulupe Faletau, Jonathan Evans and captain T Rhys Thomas all spending 10 minutes in the sin bin for cynical infringements, while Morgan was lucky not to join them for a deliberate knock-on late in the game.
Jones also conceded that the Dragons don’t have the luxury of blooding youngsters into the team like other clubs because they lack the financial and human resources to do so, but admitted Edinburgh were fully deserving of their win, which will see them take on Gloucester or Exeter Chiefs in the final at The Stoop on Friday 1 May.
The Dragons must now pick themselves up for the final three rounds of the Guinness PRO12 with a Welsh derby first up next week against the Scarlets as part of the Judgement Day III double header at the Millennium Stadium.
While Alan Solomons takes his Edinburgh side to London for the Challenge Cup final, the Men of Gwent will have an extra week to prepare for the Gunners’ visit to Rodney Parade for a non-televised match on Friday 8 May in the penultimate round of the PRO12, where revenge will be very much on the cards.
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BIOGRAPHY: Ethan Hazard
BIOGRAPHY: Daniel Sturridge