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MOSSY SLAYS DRAGONS

Newport: 11 (11) Gunners 37 (16)



It may be a reflection of your correspondent's advancing age and increased sensitivity to newfangled ideas, but legendary capital scribbler Bill Lothian's revelation last Friday of the nature of Newport's PR blitz for last night's game at Rodney Parade was genuinely depressing. Above photos of Newport's Ian Gough and the Gunners' Scott Murray on the Dragons' website appeared the headline "Friends Reunited".   The reference being, of course, to Gough's spectacularly late challenge on Murray during Scotland's 6 Nations game against Wales, when both the original cheap shot and the retaliation were rightly punished by referee Walsh.

Is that really what brings the punters in nowadays?

Happily, this evening, the Gunners gave a demonstration of what rugby really is all about, with a four try bonus point win, full of pace, athleticism and skill. All scores came from the back three in a fine display of running rugby.  Home forwards coach Leigh Jones said afterwards: "We have to own up to that loss - we under-estimated Edinburgh and thought they might roll over, but we were the ones to do that."  Given that the win completed the Gunners' second consecutive Celtic League double over these opponents, this seems a fairly unwise view to have taken.

Man of the match Paterson, meanwhile, said "we love sunny days and hard pitches, they bring out the best in us. We're not the biggest side, but we can play some very good stuff. Credit to the Dragons, they allowed us to play and we've had some good games with them. We've come through some tough times at Edinburgh, but now we're starting to get some away form to go with results at home."

Indeed, Newport have been difficult opponents for Edinburgh in the past, and the Gunners' current run of four straight league wins over them is surely another indication of the progress that the capital club have made into the upper echelons of Celtic rugby.

The win took the Gunners to fourth place on 60 points, just one point behind Munster, who gained four points for a free week.  A third place finish is a real possibility, if title-chasing Leinster can be toppled at Murrayfield in a fortnight's time.  The last three weeks have seen a welcome return to form for Edinburgh, and a defeat of the Dubliners would make a few people sit up and take notice.

After Paterson and Warlow had traded penalties, a Jorgensen break in midfield saw the Australian test star break a poor Sweeney tackle attempt.  He fed Hugo, who put the skipper over untouched for his first try.  Like the other three touchdowns of the night, this one was converted by the Paterson boot.  

After a Warlow penalty, Haldane Luscombe surged over from distance for an impressive solo score.

But two penalties from Paterson gave the Gunners a deserved lead at the half, with the visitors looking well set to push on for the win.

Early in the second period, No 8 Dave Callam took the ball on after Edinburgh had won useful turnover ball. The youngster drove inside and offloaded well to the supporting Hugo for the international to cross for the converted try. 23-11 and almost game over.

The Gunners' next score was sparked by Matt Dey, who found his centre partner Jorgensen.  Jorgo, playing in newly re-signed Marcus Di Rollo's spot for the night, again turned provider, setting up Webster with an inside pass to see the flier over for try number three under the posts.

While Newport came on to the offensive in a vain effort to secure the win they needed for automatic Heineken qualification, it was Webster again who put them out of their misery.  The winger broke from Edinburgh's line and raced down the park.  Only a desperate tackle stopped him going all the way.  But the Gunners' superior fitness allowed them to recycle quickly, and put Paterson over for his second touchdown and a satisfyingly comfortable away win. 

SCORERS

Dragons: Luscombe 1T, Warlow 2P Edinburgh : Paterson 2T 4C 3P, Webster 1T, Hugo 1T 

TEAMS

Dragons: Wyatt, Hunt, Luscombe, Sweeney, Brew, Warlow, Baber, Black, Brown, R. Thomas, Gough, Charteris, Ringer, Owen, Forster.
Replacements: Bryant for Sweeney (75), Ireland for Baber (54), Robinson for R. Thomas (61), Hall for Gough (66), Oakley for Forster (47). Not Used: Anthony, A. Thomas.

Edinburgh: Hugo, Paterson, Jorgensen, Dey, Webster, Monro, Lawson, Jacobsen, Kelly, Dickinson, Kellock, Murray, Mustchin, Callam, Strokosch.
Replacements: Godman for Monro (73), Blair for Lawson (73), Smith for Jacobsen (63), Rennie for Kelly (76), Pringle for Kellock (76). Not Used: Traynor, Leonelli Morey.

Referee: Courtney (Ireland)