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Posted on 01 April 2016 by Gary Baker


HERO Taulupe Faletau played his final game at Rodney Parade for Newport Gwent Dragons before a big-money summer move to Bath. Heinken Cup Logo Newport Gwent Dragons

But the Ospreys spoilt his farewell party with a bonus point Guinness Pro12 victory.

Wales national coach Warren Gatland and assistant Rob Howley were keen observers from the Rodney Parade stands as international scrum-half Rhys Webb had a storming game, scoring one of his side’s tries with others  coming via wing Jeff Hassler, full-back Dan Evans and flanker Sam Underhill. Fly-half Dan Biggar added two conversions.

But the Welsh coaching duo would also have been impressed by home wing Hallam Amos who grabbed two of the Dragons tries to add to a try, conversion and penalty from full-back Carl Meyer.

Pre-match, Ospreys coach Steve Tandy had demanded his side to end their season with a bang – and that was certainly how they began this game as a move across the backs left the Dragons exposed on the left for Hassler to cross after just four minutes.

But the Dragons hit back with a great team try as scrum-half Sarel Pretorius spread the ball left just inside his own half before it arrived to centre Tyler Morgan. The centre sped swiftly downfield and fed Amos to complete the score in the corner.

The ding-dong battle, though, returned the Ospreys way when their pack pounded the home line, presenting Webb with the chance to dive over the line from five metres. Biggar boomed over the conversion to put the visitors seven points clear.

And the Dragons were down to 14 men soon after that try when lock Rynard Landman deliberately knocked the ball on at ruck, leaving referee John Lacey no option but to reach for a yellow card.

The Dragons pulled back three points when Meyer boomed over a penalty from half-way but their left-side inadequacies were exposed again moments before half-time when a long ball to the left from midfield gave Evans the easiest of run-ins to the line.

Biggar’s touchline conversion was excellent and the Ospreys went into the break with an 11-point advantage.

But the Dragons hit back and, after one big move that lead to nothing, Amos grabbed his second when he chipped over the stretched Ospreys defence on the left, collected the bouncing ball and dived over for an unconverted try.

The pendulum swung back to the Ospreys on 51 minutes when the home side were stretched in midfield and Underhill found a gap to score next to the points, making Biggar’s conversion simple and giving the visitors a try bonus-point.

Yet the home side would not lay down. Meyer’s try under the posts and conversion with 12 minutes left put the Dragons back in the match and they put the squeeze on the opposition.


But it came to nothing as the Ospreys held their ground and sealed the victory.



Posted on 05 March 2016 by Gary Baker



By Gary Baker at The Rec

Bath 25 London Irish 17

FORMER England wing Matt Banahan scored two tries as Bath sealed their first bonus point victory at The Rec this season with the double over Aviva Premiership basement side London Irish. 

But, despite the score, it was an ugly win for the home side although there were some nuggets of individualism that caught the eye, particularly ex-England centre Kyle Eastmond.

Wing Semesa Rokoduguni and number eight Leroy Houston scored Bath’s other two tries as they closed the gap slightly on West Country rivals Gloucester, who beat Wasps at Kingsholm without a bonus point.

Welsh intenational fly-half Rhys Priestland, watched in the stand by his team-mate in the position George Ford, landed a penalty and conersion, while Irish’s replies came from the boot of fly-half Theo Brophy Clews and a late penalty from replacement Greig Tonks.

Wing Alex Lewington went over for Irish in the last move of the game but a tough touchline conversion from Tonks hit an upright and the Exiles missed out on a losing bonus point.

Bath got the first points when Preistland booted a 25 metre penalty through the Irish posts but, within two minutes, Exiles fly-half Brophy Clews levelled matters with a good kick from 28 metres.

However, a move down the middle saw Preistland and centre Kyle Eastmond setting up Banahan for a run-in on the left, although the Bath fly-half missed a tough conversion from the left.

This, though, stirred Irish into a response. They pressurised Bath in their 22 and went over for a try when hooker David Paice dived in the corner only for it to be called back.

But when Bath infringed again as Irish piled on the consistent pressure, Brophy Clews was accurate from 22 metres, and Bath’s lead was cut to two points at 8-6.

Bath went back up the other end to hit back straight away. They gave the Irish pack all sorts of issues in the loose and eventually, after a ruck on the Exiles’ line, scrum-half Chris Cook fed Priestland to put Banahan in for a second touchdown.

Priestland landed the conversion superbly from the touchline to give the home side a nine-point buffer.

Yet Brophy Clews booted a third penalty after a piece of ill-discipline from Bath and could have reduced the arrears to just three points had he been accurate with a forty-metre penalty with seven minutes of the half left.

The Irish defence left plenty of holes for the home attackers to seize upon and, from an attack on the visiting ten metre line, big Bath wing Semesa Rokoduguni found himself in possession with a few metres to go to the line. He was bumped hard to the corner flag by Irish scrum-half Scott Steele but, after a look at the grounding from the TMO, the try, which went unconverted, was given.

And Bath went into the break 20-9 ahead although  Irish were no great shakes and showed why they are struggling at the basement of the Premiership.

There was a lot for watching Bath head coach Mike Ford to look to correct on the training field next week as the scrum creaked and some of the handling was poor.

But, after another break through the Irish lines and a couple of phase plays, Cook swung the ball left for Eastmond to put Houston in at the corner.

From there on, the match went down a peg and, with the scrums continuing to be a mess, it meandered along to the final ten minutes.

Eastmond had a dash down the middle but that ended with nothing.

Irish finished the better as Bath infringed in front of their posts for Tonks to boot a penalty with 27 seconds left.

Then, from the restart, Irish got possession and territory in the home half, with Lewington racing over on the right.

The conversion would have given Irish a losing bonus point but the long kick from the touchline hit the post and that was that.



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