United Rugby Championship: Dragons 11-21 Lions

By Philip MarshBBC Sport Wales at Rodney Parade
United Rugby Championship: Dragons v Lions
Dragons: (11) 11
Tries: Dyer Pens: Reed 2
Lions: (7) 21
Tries: Van der Merwe, Venter, Dreyer; Cons: Hendrikse 3

Dragons' efforts to secure a first home United Rugby Championship win of the season at the final time of asking fell short as they lost 21-11 to Lions.

The Welsh region took a deserved lead when Rio Dyer's footwork beat Jordan Hendrikse for a score in the corner.

Edwill van der Merwe hit back for the visitors before two Will Reed penalties gave Dragons a narrow half-time lead.

But it was one-way traffic after the break, Ruan Dreyer and Ruan Venter crossing to secure victory for Lions.

The game started in lively fashion, with Dragons seeing the majority of possession. Dyer was almost in to open the score, but Quan Horn's covering tackle forced the Dragons wing into touch.

After the South African side made a mess of a defensive line-out the Dragons were a pass away from a certain try, but Lions wing Stean Pienaar leapt up to intercept.

With no defenders back to cover, the Lions wing had the length of the pitch to run, but he did not have the pace to escape the back-tracking Jared Rosser.

The opening score came after 22 minutes, Dragons lock Joe Maksymiw intercepting a pass deep in Lions territory before passing to Dyer, who beat Hendrikse with two lovely side-steps to touch down out wide.

The lead was short-lived however as Lions hit straight back with a try of their own through Van der Merwe as he took a neat inside pass from Hendrikse, who also slotted the conversion to make it 7-5.

The Welsh region restored their lead three minutes later, Reed kicking a penalty after the ball was deemed to have been deliberately knocked on by Lions.

Another Reed penalty on the stroke of half-time extended the Dragons' lead to four points, after Lions defenders were penalised for not rolling away at the breakdown.

Dragons wing Rio Dyer scores the games opening try
Rio Dyer's first-half score was his third try of the United Rugby Championship campaign

The Lions started the stronger in the second half and scored their second try five minutes after the restart.

After Morne van der Berg broke a tackle to work into Dragons territory, the Lions forwards powered their way ever closer, the defence finally unlocked by a brilliant pass from Van der Berg to Venter who crossed by the posts.

The South Africans extended their lead on 52 minutes when veteran prop Dreyer forced his way over from a metre out after more good work from his pack.

Dragons thought they had a way back into the contest when Josh Lewis intercepted Hendrikse's pass and raced towards the try line, but Horn's last-ditch tackle forced a knock-on.

The loss rounds off a disappointing campaign for the Dragons, who managed no wins and one draw at Rodney Parade during the season.

The Welsh region finish the inaugural URC campaign in 15th, one position above Italian side Zebre who prop up the table.

Victory for Lions was their eighth of the season, but they finished a long way behind the three other South African sides in the URC standings.

Dragons director of rugby Dean Ryan:

"I'm sad we didn't get the chance to say goodbye to some players in a different way.

"First half we showed some really enterprising stuff and glimpses of the future, but in the first 20 minutes of the second half we showed our old self.

"That's what we need to change and why people need to change.

"It's hard on days like today, but some of those people have been outstanding contributors for the Dragons."

Dragons: Jordan Williams; Rio Dyer, Adam Warren, Josh Lewis, Jared Rosser; Will Reed, Gonzalo Bertranou; Aki Seiuli, Elliot Dee, Mesake Doge, Joe Maksymiw, Huw Taylor, Ben Fry, Taine Basham, Ollie Griffiths (capt)

Replacements: Taylor Davies, Lloyd Fairbrother, Chris Coleman, Max Williams, Lennon Greggains, Lewis Jones, Sam Davies, Ioan Davies.

Lions: Quan Horn; Stean Pienaar, Henco van Wyk, Matt More, Edwill van der Merwe; Jordan Hendrikse, Morne van den Berg; JP Smith, Jaco Visagie, Ruan Dreyer, Ruan Venter, Reinhard Nothnagel (capt), Sibusiso Sangweni,Vincent Tshituka, Francke Horn.

Replacements: PJ Botha, Sti Sithole, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Ruben Schoeman, Jarod Cairns, Andre Warner, Manuel Rass, Tiaan Swanepoel.

Referee: Joy Neville (IRFU)

Assistant referees: Dewi Phillips & John Darcy (WRU)

TMO: Ian Davies (WRU)

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