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PREVIEW: Dragons aim to breath fire in France again

Tuesday 17th November 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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Il secondo turno di Challenge Cup prevede lo scontro al vertice del gruppo 3 mentre Connacht

Il secondo turno di Challenge Cup prevede lo scontro al vertice del gruppo 3 mentre Connacht

Newport Gwent Dragons insist they know just what it takes to win in France as they aim to make it two wins in a row in the Challenge Cup.

The Welsh region head to Castres Olympique this week top of Pool 2 in the European Rugby Challenge Cup. A handsome bonus-point victory over Sale Sharks was their eighth success in their last ten games in this tournament.

And that includes a shock win in Paris last season over a Stade Francais Paris side on their way to winning the Top 14 Championship. Before that, Dragons had returned home defeated from their previous seven trips across the Channel but victory in the French capital has brought a new-found confidence.

Director of rugby Lyn Jones said: “When you consider the money French teams spend the size of their players, it is phenomenal. It is a massive challenge for any side to go there and register a victory, or even get anything from the game.

“But we won at Stade last season and that experience gave us so much confidence and proved to the players that things can happen if you believe.

“You have nothing to lose when you go to France. They will want to play a power game but we have to play to our strengths and drag them into an open game of rugby.

“Nothing changes in our domestic league because we face the same teams every week. But in Europe, you face different teams, different players and different referees. I have found that if you are positive, you usually get rewards –  we scored four tries at Stade and I think we’re a better team than 12 months ago.”

Castres have had an extra week to prepare after the tie against Pau was postponed. Last time out they ended a three-match losing run with a thoroughly impressive 34-8 triumph over Racing-Metro, having also defeated European champions RC Toulon at Stade Pierre Antoine.

Match Facts

  • Though these teams have never faced each other directly in this competition, Castres go into the match undefeated from seven previous matches against Welsh opposition in the Challenge Cup.
  • The two sides have met in the Champions Cup however with both sides winning their home fixtures in two pool meetings in the 2005/06 campaign.
  • Castres Olympique have won only one of their last three home matches but have won 19 of their total 24 home matches in the Challenge Cup.
  • This will be Castres’ 50th game in this competition, their current record stands at won 33, lost 16.
  • Newport Gwent Dragons have won four of their last five matches away from home, the same amount of wins as they earned in their 12 away matches prior to that.

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REPORT: Dragons pipped at the death

Saturday 21st November 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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Après avoir vu son premier match en European Rugby Challenge Cup reporté

Après avoir vu son premier match en European Rugby Challenge Cup reporté

Castres Olympique just edged out Newport Gwent Dragons in a thrilling European Rugby Challenge Cup tie that ended 32-29 in favour of the home side.

Daniel Kirkpatrick, Geoffrey Palis, Thomas Combezou and Alex Tulou all crossed to clinch a bonus-point win for the hosts. But Carl Meyer and Elliott Dee both scored in a wonderful second half.
And Meyer’s boot along with that of Dorian Jones made sure Dragons did not leave Stade Pierre Antoine empty-handed. A young Dragons side had their hands full trying to contend with the sheer size of their hosts.

Though it was the trickery and footwork of Kiwi fly-half Kirkpatrick that finally split the Dragons defence after a powerful line-out drive. A second try followed when John Beattie picked up from the tail of a scrum and scrum-half Julien Seron was in support to hand full-back Palis an easy finish past Nick Scott.

However, the boot of Jones somehow kept the Dragons within touching distance and cut the deficit to 14-9 at half-time. And that provided a platform to launch a comeback as the lead changed hands four times in the second-half.
Pretorius again pulled the strings though it took three missed opportunities until they finally found a way over the French line. Dee broke through and his pass saw Meyer cross on 49 minutes.
Jones converted and added a penalty when Castres flanker Alexandre Bias was sin- binned. And it was Pretorius’ quick-thinking that inspired a second try finished by Dee between the posts to silence the raucous home crowd.
Jones’ conversion put Dragons 26-17 ahead on 56 minutes. Yet the power of the French forwards dramatically shifted momentum on the hour mark with 15 unanswered points.

Centre Thomas Combezou barged over, Palis converted and added a penalty before Tulou finished a devastating line-out drive after Dorian Jones received a yellow card for an off-the-ball challenge. However, the 14 Dragons closed ranks and a Meyer penalty set up a thrilling climax.


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