European Challenge Cup: Newport Gwent Dragons 37-16 Brive
|European Challenge Cup: Dragons v Brive|
|Dragons (13) 37|
|Tries: Landman, Evans, Hill, Amos, Warren Cons: MacLeod, O'Brien 2 Pens: Macleod 2|
|Brive (13) 16|
|Tries: Laranjeira Con: Laranjeira Pens: Laranjeira 3|
Newport Gwent Dragons shrugged off their disappointing Pro12 form to make a winning start in the European Challenge Cup.
Four quickfire tries in the second period helped them secure a bonus-point victory in a tournament that tends to see them produce their best form.
Hallam Amos, Cory Hill, Adam Warren and Lewis Evans all touched down after the hosts had fallen behind.
Thomas Laranjeira scored all 16 points for the visitors.
The Dragons, who have lost their past four Pro12 games, were beaten by Montpellier in the semi-finals of the last season's European Challenge Cup.
But they started this year's competition quickly - leading through two early Nick Macleod penalties before extending their advantage with a try as Rynard Landman went over.
However, Laranjeira got the visitors back into contention by half-time.
He crossed for a try on 16 minutes and converted, before adding two penalties to make it 13-13 and ensure parity at the interval.
The Dragons were failing to match the intensity they showed in the early exchanges and fell behind for the first time on the hour mark when Laranjeira once again showed precision to add another penalty.
The hosts produced the instant response they needed, however, as a line-out released Amos, who was snared just before the line, allowing captain Evans to barge over.
Angus O'Brien rattled the posts with his conversion attempt as the Dragons led 18-16.
The missed conversion made the next score vital, and the Dragons delighted the home faithful by scoring their third try of the night, Cory Hill bundling over after a powerful breakaway and O'Brien making no mistake at the second time of asking to push the advantage to 25-16.
A further score from Amos added the bonus point, before Adam Warren added gloss for the Dragons, who arguably produced their best display of the campaign.
Brive have now lost on both their visits to Rodney Parade, having been defeated 39-17 at the quarter-final stage of the competition during the 2006-07 season.
Newport Gwent Dragons head coach Kingsley Jones told BBC Wales Sport:
"It's a big relief. We felt if we could get things to click then we would unleash. Let's be honest, in 60 minutes the game was in the balance.
"They managed to take the lead in the 60th minute by three points and the most pleasing thing about tonight is that we gained the momentum back.
"I thought the replacements were outstanding and to score three or four tries late in that half was excellent and they were very good as well."
Newport Gwent Dragons: Carl Meyer, Ashton Hewitt, Tyler Morgan, Adam Warren, Hallam Amos, Nick Macleod, Charlie Davies; Thomas Davies, Rhys Buckley, Brok Harris, Cory Hill, Rynard Landman, James Thomas, Lewis Evans (captain), Ed Jackson.
Replacements: Darran Harris, Phil Price, Craig Mitchell, Matthew Screech, Harrison Keddie, Sarel Pretorius, Angus O'Brien, Sam Beard.
Brive: Benjamin Lapeyre, Elia Radikedike, Arnaud Mignardi, Christopher Tuatara, Guillaume Namy, Thomas Laranjeira, Vasil Lobzhanidze; Vivien Devisme, Guillaume Ribes, Damien Jourdain, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Johan Snyman, William Whetton, Fabien Sanconnie, Petrus Hauman (captain)
Replacements: Francois Da Ros, Damien Lavergne, Soso Bekoshvili, Jan Uys, Peniami Narisia, Jean-Baptiste Pejoine, Taku Ngwenya, Sevanaia Galala
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (England)
Assistant referees: Andrew Jackson & Nigel Carrick (England)