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Dragons end abject season on a low with loss to Lions

By PA
Andre Warner of the Lions with the ball during the United Rugby Championship match between The Dragons and The Lions at Rodney Parade on May 21, 2022 in Newport, Wales. (Photo by Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)

The Dragons completed their dismal season without winning a game at home as they went down 21-11 to the Lions at Rodney Parade.

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Dean Ryan’s side drew 13-13 with Benetton in January but lost all their other matches on home turf, with only victories at Connacht and the Scarlets to cheer.

They led 11-7 at half-time of this final instalment of the campaign after a 25th-minute try by right wing Rio Dyer and two penalties from fly-half Will Reed.

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And the home side were reasonable value for their advantage having enjoyed the bulk of territory and possession throughout the opening 40 minutes.

But the Lions were always in touch after a well crafted try by Edwill van der Merwe in the 34th minute and always looked as though they might make their extra bulk tell as the game wore on.

They did just that. By the 53rd minute the Dragons were behind by 10 points after early second-half tries from lock Ruan Venter and tighthead prop Ruan Dreyer, both converted by fly-half Jordan Hendrikse.

The Dragons, eager to give their fans something to cheer, did rally for the final quarter.

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Centre Josh Lewis thought he had claimed a try 12 minutes from the end of time when he intercepted a pass and sprinted clear.

But referee Joy Neville consulted the TMO and the score was correctly ruled out for a failure to ground the ball, with Lewis’ stumble just yards from the line proving costly.

There was little on the match for either side, prompting a stale and indifferent atmosphere at Rodney Parade for periods of the game.

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Ultimately the Lions made their size and power count. They dominated the scrum, heaving the Dragons back painfully on several occasions and they decisively won the battle of the gain-line.

The Dragons were weakened, with Welsh international forwards Ross Moriarty, Ben Carter, Leon Brown, Aaron Wainwright and Will Rowlands all missing.

But still there was a sense that their home faithful were glad to see the final curtain come down on a nightmare campaign.

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