European Rugby Challenge Cup: Bucharest Wolves 10-37 NG Dragons

By Dafydd PritchardBBC Wales Sport in Bucharest
Andrew Coombs made his Wales debut against Ireland in February 2013
Andrew Coombs made his Wales debut against Ireland in February 2013
Bucharest (10) 10
Tries: Morrell
Cons: Vlaicu
Pens: Vlaicu
Dragons (13) 37
Tries: A Smith, TR Thomas, J Thomas, Coombs 2
Cons: GR Jones 2
Pens: GR Jones 2

Newport Gwent Dragons survived an early scare in Romania to beat Bucharest Wolves and keep alive their hopes in the European Challenge Cup.

The hosts led 10-0 after Sean Morrell's early try, but Ashley Smith's touchdown and eight points from Rhys Jones gave the Dragons a 13-10 half-time lead.

T Rhys Thomas, James Thomas and Andrew Coombs, twice, crossed after the break to secure the visitors' bonus point.

Victory strengthens the Dragons' hold on second place in Pool 3.

The Welsh region are three points behind leaders Newcastle Falcons, after they beat Stade Francais 30-23 on Friday night.

With the hosts' usual Stadium Arcul home unplayable because of a waterlogged pitch, the match was switched to Ghencea Stadium, a small ground next to the home of former European football champions Steaua Bucharest.

Playing in unfamiliar surroundings seemed to have no ill-effect on the home side, who made a strong and purposeful start which rattled the Dragons.

The ball seldom left the grasp of the Bucharest forwards as they drove their way to the Dragons' line, and the hosts' repetitive but effective carrying saw Morrell cross for the opening try.

With fly-half Florin Vlaicu having earlier kicked a penalty, Bucharest led 10-0 and sensed an upset might be in the offing.

But the Dragons responded calmly to their precarious position, with Jones kicking two penalties to reduce the deficit before patient approach play from forwards and backs alike allowed Smith to dart over from close range.

The visitors' nerves were truly settled early in the second half, as hooker T Rhys Thomas finished off a driving maul and James Thomas claimed their third try in similar circumstances moments later.

With the wind taken out of Bucharest's sails, the Dragons took full advantage to secure their bonus point as Coombs touched down following Jason Tovey's initial interception and run.

Coombs then finished a routine move to claim his second try and his team's fifth as the Dragons coasted to a comfortable victory.


Bucharest Wolves: Luke Samoa; Robert Neagu, Catalin Dascalu, Florin Ionita, Ionut Botezatu; Florin Vlaicu (capt), Florin Surugiu; Constantin Pristavita, Otar Turashvili, Silviu Vasiliu, Johan Van Heerden, Petre Neacsu, Alexandru Mitu, Sean Morrell, Razvan Ailenei.

Replacements: Alexandru-Claudiu Oancea, Mihai Dico, Vlad Badalicescu, Onal Ageacai, Vali-Catalin Mototolea, Grigoras Diaconescu, Andrei-Daniel Ilie, Marian Apostol.

Newport Gwent Dragons: Geraint Rhys Jones; Tom Prydie, Ross Wardle, Ashley Smith, Matthew Pewtner; Jason Tovey, Richie Rees; Brok Harris, T. Rhys Thomas, Dan Way, Cory Hill, Andrew Coombs, James Thomas, Nic Cudd, Lewis Evans (capt).

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Phil Price, Lloyd Fairbrother, Matthew Screech, James Benjamin, Jonathan Evans, Dorian Jones, Hallam Amos.

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