Match report: Dragons get back to winning ways
October 6, 2007
Newport scored a significant and much-needed Magners League victory over fellow strugglers Ulster at Rodney Parade. After a shock victory at Llanelli Scarlets on the first day of the season, Newport had lost all four games since to prop up the table.
But they started off well enough as outside-half Ceri Sweeney, back from Wales' duty in the World Cup, booted an early penalty.
Kevin Morgan, also playing his first league game since Welsh interest in France ended last week, set up a first try of the game for wing Gareth Wyatt in the corner.
Ulster were roused into action and had a couple of attacks only to turn over the ball in prime positions before outside-half Niall O'Connor reduced the arrears on 16 minutes with a long-range penalty.
The Dragons piled on the pressure a few times on the Ulster line but the Irish side's defence was quite brilliant, twice turning over rucks when they were almost certain to concede a try.
But they were their own worst enemy when flanker Matt McCullough was sin-binned for elbowing with Sweeney adding a 42-metre penalty as punishment.
And on the stroke of half-time Ulster put hands in a ruck for Sweeney to land his third penalty and give his team a 14-3 lead at the break.
O'Connor booted Ulster's second penalty of the night on 43 minutes when the Dragons strayed offside in midfield and, after a 10-minute lull in proceedings, the game livened up again as the Welsh region mounted a sustained attack.
Ulster had another man sin-binned as flanker David Pollock dived over the top of an attacking ruck, preventing a possible try and allowing Sweeney a simple three points.
The visitors then conceded a soft try as the Dragons were stopped on the opposition 10-metre line but scrum-half Wayne Evans fed Rhodri Gomar-Davies for the centre to race under the posts.
It gave the Dragons a healthy lead but that was soon cut when scrum-half Paul Marshall came within inches of a try before Ulster swept the ball to midfield for replacement Tom Court to crash over.
The game faded away towards the end until big lock Luke Charteris plunged over in injury time.
"Some people have it from day one and Brian did." We talk to the two players who made their Ireland debuts alongside Brian O'Driscoll back in June 1999