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Posted on 09 April 2016

 Gloucester 21 Newport Gwent Dragons 23 

THE GLOUCESTER fans said it all as they streamed out of Kingsholm on Saturday with thunderous faces and enraged by a terrible display from their side. Heinken Cup Logo Newport Gwent Dragons

The Cherry and Whites defence of the European Challenge Cup came to an end as a gritty Newport Gwent Dragons, who had not won for seven previous matches, added the name of Gloucester to their major European scalps that have included French side Stade Francais and Aviva Premiership outfit Newcastle in the last two years.

And the Dragons fully deserved the victory as Gloucester sank to their fifth successive defeat and the first loss in Europe since going down to Wasps in April 2014.

It now means that the Dragons go to Montpellier for the semi-final and another match where they will be huge underdogs which will suit them well again.

The Dragons opened the scoring when fly-half Dorian Jones booted a 25 metre penalty, and Gloucester’s mistakes to give the visiting number ten shots at goal was to be a major theme in the first period.

Dursley’s Ben Morgan grabbed the first try of the match when he was put away on the left wing after a great Gloucester move down the right to stretch the Dragons defence and give the number eight his chance.

Scrum-half Greig Laidlaw was unable to add the touchline conversion but it seemed as if Gloucester had found their rhythm early and would have the Dragons on the back foot.

Indeed, Gloucester’s centres cut through the visiting midfield a number of times in the first-half but were stopped by some stout defence.

But a second Jones penalty a quarter-of-an-hour into the game gave the Dragons the lead before Laidlaw regained it for the Cherry and Whites with a 25 metre attempt when the Welshmen were caught offside.

And, when Dragons scrum-half Saral Pretorious was sin-binned for a deliberate shoulder charge on 22 minutes, Gloucester again had the upper hand but could only come away from having a man advantage with a second Laidlaw penalty when the Dragons were guilty of dropping a scrum.

In fact, without their number nine, the Dragons were industrious and had the Cherry and Whites pinned into their own half for a while.

Jones had six shots at goal in the first period, and four of those came when Gloucester infringed in their own half while Pretorious was off the pitch. Luckily for the home side, Jones missed twice but he landed the other two.

And the last of those kicks that put the Dragons 12-11 up at the break was for hands in a ruck by Laidlaw which earned the Scottish international captain a yellow card.

Gloucester had their backs to the wall after the break as the Dragons piled on the pressure again, with Jones landing his fifth penalty of the match and, just after the hour, full-back Carl Meyer kicking a monster penalty from two metres inside his own half.

It gave the Welshmen a seven-point lead and Gloucester coach David Humphreys must have been pulling his hair out at the inept performance from his side.

They needed leadership and they managed to get their act back together when Laidlaw returned from the sin-bin.

Gloucester managed to regain their game plan and put the Dragons under the cosh, eventually seeing fly-half James Hook put a grubber kick to the posts for Pretorious to fumble above his head and wing Steve McColl to collect for the easiest try.

Laidlaw’s simple conversion levelled the scores and the scrum-half booted a thirty metre penalty on 71 minutes to put the Cherry and Whites ahead again.

But the gutsy Welshmen would not lay down and pounded the home line again, leading to an attacking maul and a try from five metres by replacement scrum-half Charlie Davies that went unconverted.

And the Dragons held out as Gloucester could not find a way through the defence to end the Cherry and Whites involvement in the Challenge Cup and inflict another defeat in a poor run of results.

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Photos from Photographer, Jeff Thomas

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