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Dragons RFC are gunning for a first win in EPCR Challenge Cup Pool B when they head to Section Paloise in Round 3 on Friday night.
The Welsh region are on four points in sixth thanks largely to their thrilling 31-31 draw at Emirates Lions in Round 1 but will need to bounce back from a 27-21 home defeat to Section Paloise last time out.
The French side’s success at Rodney Parade saw them rise to fourth in Pool B, with their Round 1 clash with Toyota Cheetahs in France having ended in a 21-16 defeat.
Since the two sides’ EPCR Challenge Cup Round 2 meeting, Dragons have fallen to three straight defeats in the United Rugby Championship, while Section Paloise have notched one draw – 22-22 with Aviron Bayonnais – in three TOP 14 games.
The game at Stade du Hameau kicks off at 20:00 (UK & Irish time) and is available to watch on beIN SPORTS, Viaplay-Premier Sports and FloRugby.
🗣️ "It’s in our hands still… it is down to us to produce good performances and progress in this competition…"
Coach Narraway urges accuracy as 🐉 head to 🇫🇷 in @ChallengeCup_ 💪
— Dragons RFC (@dragonsrugby) January 10, 2023
Dragons head coach Dai Flanagan: ““We will pick the best team that we can,” he said. “I’ve some youngsters that I need to bring through, but we also want to win every game we play.”
- Section Paloise have a higher tackle success rate than any other club so far this season (94%). Hugo Auradou has made 21 tackles, missing none.
- Eoghan Barrett made the most clean breaks in Round 2 (5). He also beat four defenders, made 97 metres and scored a try.
- Section Paloise conceded 17 penalties in Round 2, the highest total of the round, with 14 in defence.
- Dragons have the highest rate of gainline success in the competition (61.7%), while Bradley Roberts has crossed the gainline 20 times – more than any other player.
- Sio Tomkinson conceded five turnovers in Round 2 – the highest total in a single match so far this season.
- Dragons have made the most metres from kick returns (371) and restart returns (83) in the tournament. Aaron Wainwright has made the most metres for a forward from the restart (38) and Ross Moriarty has made a tournament-high 122 metres from kick returns.
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Dragons RFC took a hard-earned four points away from the south of France on Friday night as Ashton Hewitt and Max Clark crossed in a 21-15 victory at Section Paloise in the EPCR Challenge Cup.
Will Reed was the talisman for the Welsh region as he contributed eight points with the boot – a conversion and two penalties coming from the Dragons’ fly-half.
Pau, in response, notched a pair of tries themselves, Daniel Ikpefan and Vincent Pinto the names on the scoresheet – Thibault Debaes and Alex Desperes contributed five points from the tee.
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) January 13, 2023
It was the hosts who got off to a fast start as they notched on eight minutes. Ikpefan latched onto his own kick over the Dragons’ defence to dot down for the first points of the night.
The visitors responded quickly, however, with Hewitt the try scorer as he took on a smart inside pass from the hands of Lewis Jones to breach the Pau line and level proceedings at 7-7.
Reed’s first penalty, before Max Clark powered over from close range, opened Dragons’ lead to 15-7 at the break.
The French side needed a quick start to the second half, and they duly delivered. Théo Attissogbe was the catalyst as he broke four tackles before offloading to Clovis Le Bail, who found try scorer Pinto.
Reed added his second penalty of the evening midway through the second period, setting up a nervy close to the game. A dramatic late ending was denied by the Welsh region when replacement JJ Hanrahan calmly extended the lead to nine points with just two minutes remaining.
Desperes did notch a late consolation for the hosts, but it was Dragons who took the spoils in the closely contested Pool B match-up.
Both sides remain in with a chance of advancing to the Round of 16 – Dragons host Emirates Lions next Sunday, while Section Paloise take on Toyota Cheetahs in Italy.