Pro 12: Cardiff Blues 17-23 NG Dragons
|Cardiff Blues (3) 17|
|Tries: Hoeata, Knoyle Cons: Anscombe 2 Pen: G Davies|
|Dragons (13) 23|
|Tries: Dee, penalty try Cons: Prydie 2 Pens: Prydie 3|
Newport Gwent Dragons battled to a dramatic Pro12 festive derby win against Cardiff Blues.
The visitors combined better organisation with controlled efficiency to punish their disjointed opponents.
Dragons hooker Elliott Dee touched down from a line-out drive and the Dragons pack also forced a penalty try.
Blues fought back from 20-3 down with tries from Jarrad Hoeata and Tavis Knoyle, but they were unable to overhaul Lyn Jones' side.
Dragons coach Lyn Jones' confidence ahead of kick-off had been questionable considering his side had only won two matches in their 10 Pro12 matches before their clash at Cardiff Arms Park.
Neither did the Blues boast a solid track record even if they had comfortably seen off Scarlets 21-9 on 19 December.
The hosts had won three of their 10 Pro12 games going into this clash against their most local rivals and were only a place above them in ninth.
Dragons forwards led the way in dreadful, wet conditions, giving their opponents a torrid time around the field.
And the hosts hardly helped themselves as fly-half Gareth Davies produced a performance that former Cardiff and Wales wing Adrian Hadley described as "absolutely abysmal" before he was replaced by Gareth Anscombe in the second half.
|19 December: Blues 21-9 Scarlets|
|Boxing Day: Blues 17-23 Dragons|
|27 December: Ospreys v Scarlets|
|New Year's Day: Dragons v Blues|
|3 January: Scarlets v Ospreys|
In the opening hour, the Blues were disjointed and disorganised with the Dragons, in contrast, controlled and efficienct.
Fly-half Jason Tovey's tactical kicking and his team-mates' solid chasing and all-round defensive effort made life uncomfortable for Mark Hammett's men.
Full-back Prydie kicked the Dragons' opening penalty and Elliott Dee, in as a late starter after hooker Rhys Thomas pulled up ahead of kick-off, touched down at the back of a driving line-out for the first try.
Prydie converted and added a penalty soon after, to which Davies replied to bring a close to the opening period.
With no sign of a change in their fortunes emanating from those on the field, Hammett sent on fresh legs with the greatest significance at half-back.
Gareth Anscombe and Tavis Knoyle took over from Gareth Davies and Lewis Jones.
But before Anscombe and Knoyle could direct the home side's fightback, the visiting pack's power forced a penalty try as the Blues illegally dragged down a driving maul for Prydie to convert.
Momentum swung the home side's way after that, with home lock Hoeata going over as Blues mimicked Dragons' direct approach.
Blues switched tactics from a series of close-range drives to allow Anscombe the chance to break the Dragons' defence.
Knoyle followed up to barge over and Anscombe converted.
Prydie kicked what turned out to be the game's final points with a penalty.
A tense ending fed the fiery atmosphere at a packed stadium as replacement Dorian Jones sped away.
But he had knocked on in gathering a loose pass and despite the score being ruled out, the Dragons held on.
Cardiff Blues: Joaquin Tuculet; Alex Cuthbert, Cory Allen, Gavin Evans, Lucas Amorosino; Gareth Davies, Lewis Jones; Sam Hobbs, Matthew Rees (c), Adam Jones, Jarrad Hoeata, Lou Reed, Josh Turnbull, Ellis Jenkins, Josh Navidi
Replacements: Kristian Dacey, Gethin Jenkins, Taufa'ao Filise, Macauley Cook, Manoa Vosawai, Tavis Knoyle, Gareth Anscombe, Adam Thomas
Newport Gwent Dragons: Tom Prydie, Matthew Pewtner, Tyler Morgan, Jack Dixon, Hallam Amos, Jason Tovey, Jonathan Evans; Phil Price, Elliott Dee, Brok Harris, Andrew Coombs, Rynard Landman (c), James Thomas, Nic Cudd, Lewis Evans.
Replacements: Hugh Gustafson, Owen Evans, Dan Way, Cory Hill, Ian Gough, Richie Rees, Dorian Jones, Geraint Rhys Jones.
Referee: Leighton Hodges (WRU)
Assistant Referees: Rhys Thomas, Craig Evans (both WRU)
Citing Commissioner: Gwyn Bowden (WRU)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (WRU)