Gavin Henson’s deep role fails to lift Newport Gwent Dragons against Cardiff

first_img Read more Support The Guardian The Dragons are starting to breathe fire rather than inhale it, but they are not yet bombproof. Like the capacity crowd, their flame was doused by rain and opponents who played the conditions more cleverly, but a region that was a vote away from extinction seven months ago has success rather than survival as its driver.Had members of the Newport Rugby Club, the then owners of Rodney Parade, voted in the summer against a proposal to sell the ground to the Welsh Rugby Union, the Dragons’ main investors would have demanded their money back and the region, in the words of its chief executive at the time, Stuart Davies, would not have had a future. Now the Dragons have signed two Lions, Ross Moriarty and Richard Hibbard, for next season and have two more, George North and Taulupe Faletau, in their sights. Since you’re here… Reuse this content Share on Pinterest Sign up to the Breakdown for the latest rugby union news Share on LinkedIn Share on WhatsApp … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Topics “We have made a number of changes in a short space of time, but we are not satisfied with where we currently are,” David Buttress, the Dragons’ multimillionaire chairman, said. “Our intention is not to stay behind the other teams in Wales and we are working hard to add to the playing-salary budget to make the side more competitive. We have made exciting signings and are confident more will follow.”The Dragons had not lost at home in the league since the opening day of the season, while the Blues had lost four in five on the road. But after the visitors overcame early problems at the scrum their greater expertise on the floor and a measure of composure behind on an afternoon when so much was rash and rushed marked them apart, although they should not have exposed themselves to a tense finish.Trying to rise above the frenzy was Gavin Henson, who turns 36 in February. Professional rugby often resembles a dodgem car circuit with its mass of furious collisions but Henson is more a classic rally enthusiast, preferring the open road. He had to endure a few dents to his bodywork, missing a tackle that led to the opening try of the game and going missing for the second but he was alert to opportunity, waiting for a moment that had not arrived by the time he was taken off after 67 minutes.A problem for the Dragons was that Henson’s preference for lying deep left them playing behind the gainline too often on a day when the rain started to fall heavily just before kick-off. Last season that would have meant a pitch even heavier than the home side’s tighthead prop, Nicky Thomas, a throwback to the days when players in his position did not have the inconvenience of tight‑fitting shirts, but a £3m investment in the playing surface last summer was another part of the drive to lift the region from the bottom. Rugby unioncenter_img Cardiff Blues Read more Jonny May red card angers Leicester and helps Saracens to stop the rot Share on Facebook Share via Email Pro14 Newport Gwent Dragons Share on Twitter The largest crowd of the season anticipated a first home victory over the rivals in the league for three years and the opening quarter justified their optimism. The Blues were so taken apart up front that Bradley Thyer was sent to the sin-bin after being held responsible for four successive collapsed scrums. The Dragons’ return from a sustained period of pressure and 10 minutes with a one-man advantage was nothing and as the Blues started to dominate the breakdown and manoeuvre space behind, history started to repeat itself.Gareth Anscombe gave the Blues the lead with a 25th-minute penalty on a day when he missed three of his first four kicks at goal, including the conversion of Aled Summerhill’s try four minutes before half-time after the impressive Owen Lane had trampled through Henson’s challenge and Joe Davies’s head inadvertently gave Summerhill the scoring pass.Henson’s 40-metre penalty before the break made the score 8-3 to the Blues who scored their second try 10 minutes after the restart, Henson rushing out of the line too quickly, and extended their lead to 19 points on the hour through Tom James. The Dragons finally stirred the crowd through Lloyd Fairbrother and a driving maul six minutes from time that resulted in a penalty try, but the cameo was not enough.Bernard Jackman, the Dragons’ head coach, said: “It was an opportunity missed. We showed a lot of character at the end, but the first 55 minutes was not the image of ourselves we are looking to portray. A capacity gate was what we wanted, but perhaps it meant we were not able to deal with expectation. If so, we need to fix it because we want to play in front of big crowds regularly but we are nowhere near where we want to be.”Newport Gwent Dragons Amos (Belcher, 74); Hewitt, Warren (Rosser, 61), Dixon, Howard; Henson (O’Brien, 67), C Davies (Pretorius, 51); Hobbs (T Davies, 51), Dee, Thomas (Fairbrother, h-t), J Davies (Landman, 60), Hill (capt), Wainwright, Benjamin, Sheekey (Roach, 48).Try Fairbrother, Penalty. Con Henson. Pen Henson.Cardiff Blues Morgan; Lane, Smith, Lee-Lo, Summerhill (James, 51); Anscombe, T Williams (L Williams, 70); Thyer (Jenkins, 16‑19), Rees (capt; Myhill, 61), Assiratti (Andrews, 51), S Davies, Cook (Welch, 61), Navidi, Robinson, N Williams (Turnbull, 66).Tries Summerhill, Lee-Lo, James. Cons Anscombe 2. Pen Anscombe.Sin-bin Thyer 14, Myhill 73.Referee A Brace (Ireland). Attendance 8,722. Share on Messenger match reportslast_img