Dragons fire to sink Saints with late try double

TRY DOUBLE - George Pisi
TRY DOUBLE - George Pisi

Two Newport Dragons tries in the final five minutes condemned Saints to a 27-25 defeat in their final pre-season friendly of the summer.

Saints were on top for most of the game, and led 25-13 going into the closing stages, but the home side rallied in the rain to score two tries at the death to claim an unlikely victory.

A first half double from George Pisi and James Wilson’s effort had put Saints in control, but the Dragons pounced twice late on for a smash and grab win.

Persistent rain made conditions tough for both sides with the ball slippery in hand and the ground even wetter under foot.

Saints took the lead from early on with Will Hooley opening the scoring, slotting a penalty with just seven minutes on the clock.

Dragons replied with a penalty soon after through Jason Tovey and it was the fly half’s boot that relieved large period of pressure on the home line as the half wore on.

Hooley broke the stalemate with 31 minutes on the clock, knocking over a a drop goal and the first try followed soon after.

Luther Burrell kicked delicately across field, Ken Pisi gathered and his inside ball was juggled by Lee Dickson to George Pisi, who pushed over the line.

The Samoan was in again quickly, too, a charge down leading to the centre crossing the line for a second time, followed by a successful conversion from Hooley.

A penalty reply from Tovey left the score at 18-6 to Saints going into half time but again it was the Saints who were on top as the teams re-emerged.

A series of replacements for the Saints in the first 10 minutes of the second half gave the side a boost but the fresh legs couldn’t stop the Dragons scoring their first try in response.

A mid-air collision led to the ball bouncing free and Aled Brew scooped up to take advantage.

As the rain continued to pour, a series of controlled passes allowed James Wilson to strongly finish an excellently crafted try, Hooley again successfully converting.

But despite defending their lead comfortably as the clock ticked down, the Dragons responded with 77 minutes on the clock.

Off turnover ball, Corey Hill went under the posts and a just a minute from time, a high kick bounced aroundand that allowed Tom Prydie through, with the winger also converting his own try to take Dragons in front for the first time.

There was no time for the Saints to reply, and Newport claimed the win.

Match facts

Newport: Byrne; Prydie, Leach, Dixon, Brew; Tovey, Evans; Stankovich, Dee, Fairbrother, Landman, Screech, Coombs, Cudd, Powell. Reps: Rhys Thomas, Evans, Young, Way, Gough, Hill, Evans, Thomas, Matthews, Benjamin, Jones, Morgan, Pewtner, Nightingale, Rhys Jones, Rees, O’Brien

Scorers: Tries - Brew, Hill, Tovey; Cons - Tovey, Prydie (2); Pens - Tovey (2)

Saints: Wilson; K Pisi, G Pisi, Burrell, North; Hooley, Dickson; Corbisiero, Hartley, Ma’afu, Lawes, Day, Clark, Wood, Manoa. Reps: McMillan, A Waller, Denman, Craig, Dolan, Harrison, Fisher, Fotuali’i, Waldouck, Elliott, Packman, Skelcey, Olver

Scorers: Tries - G Pisi (2), Wilson; Cons - Hooley (2); Pens: Hooley (2)