Pro14: Dragons 27-22 Southern Kings
|Guinness Pro14: Dragons v Southern Kings|
|Dragons (17) 27|
|Tries: Griffiths, Wainwright, Lewis Cons: Lewis 3 Pens: Lewis 2|
|Southern Kings (10) 22|
|Tries: Willemse, Basson, Masimla, Penxe Cons: Banda|
A late Josh Lewis try allowed Dragons to edge home against Southern Kings in an error-strewn Pro14 encounter, despite being outscored 4-3 on tries.
With the scores level on the hour, Lewis' penalty and breakaway try gave the home side just enough breathing space to hold on.
Ollie Griffiths and Aaron Wainwright got Dragons' first-half scores.
The visitors took two bonus points with touchdowns from Michael Willemse, Bjorn Basson, Godlen Masimla and Yaw Penxe.
Ross Moriarty got through a hard-working 80 minutes, Jordan Williams looked dangerous running from full-back, Richard Hibbard put in some vital tackles late on and Ollie Griffiths earned man-of-the-match.
But there was plenty of room for improvement as Dragons struggled to turn pressure into points against a team who have not won away since they entered the tournament last season.
The hosts got off to a flying start as a long-distance attack sparked off by Jordan Williams and Hallam Amos was finished off by Griffiths after four minutes, while fellow flanker Wainwright made the most of a charge-down 10 minutes later.
Two conversions and a penalty from Lewis made it 17-0, but Kings' first spell of pressure saw scrum-half Rhodri Williams rightly sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on and they took full advantage.
Captain Willemse rumbled over from a close-range line-out drive, before the visitors showed their strengths out wide with international wing Basson sprinting clear after a line-out inside their own half.
Masimla's counter-attack score 15 minutes into the second half gave fly-half Maxisole Banda the chance to kick his only goal to level the scores.
But Lewis's penalty, try and conversion put the Dragons 10 points clear, and although Penxe's last-minute score gave Kings some reward in the table, it could not prevent Bernard Jackman's side earning the bare minimum they needed from the game.
Dragons fly-half Josh Lewis told BBC Sport Wales:
"It was scrappy in places and we made it hard work for ourselves, but it was good to grind the win out.
"I don't know where I got the try from (running in from half-way), I think I was off-side (from Rhodri Williams' kick), but it got charged down so I was on-side.
"I knew their wingers were fast so I put my head down and hoped for the best.
"Gavin (Henson) is a great guy, I'm learning a lot off him and it's good to have a British & Irish Lion teaching me different things after the luxury of playing with Rhys Priestland last year.
"I fell out of love with the game coming from the Scarlets, so I went back to Ebbw Vale and enjoyed my time there, before Bath came up with a contract, but it's nice to be back home."
Dragons: J Williams; Howells, Morgan, Dixon, Amos; J Lewis, R Williams; Harris, Dee, Brown, Screech, Hill (capt), Wainwright, Griffiths, Moriarty.
Replacements: Hibbard, Bevington, Fairbrother, Nansen, Taylor, Knoyle, Robson, Warren, L Evans.
Southern Kings: Penxe; Makase, H Klassan, B Klassan, Basson; Banda, R Van Rooyen; Forwood, Willemse (capt), Pupuma, Oelofse, De Wee, De Wit, Ntsila, Burger.
Replacements: A Van Rooyen, Ferreira, Mguca, Astle, Lerm, Masimla, Du Toit, Beyers.
Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU)
Assistant referees: Nigel Correll (IRFU), Gwyn Morris (WRU)
TMO: Sean Brickell (WRU)
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