Pro14: Dragons slump to 29-17 defeat against Cheetahs
|Pro14: Dragons v Toyota Cheetahs|
|Tries: Hewitt, Dee Cons: Robson 2 Drop: Robson|
|Tries: Maxwane 2, Zeilinga, Blommetjies Cons: Marais 2, Zeilinga Pens: Marais|
The Dragons went down 29-17 to the Cheetahs in the Pro14 to extend their winless run to 13 league matches as they collapsed in the second half.
Ashton Hewitt's early try helped the Welsh region lead 10-3 at the break.
But poor defence saw Sibahle Maxwane cross twice either side of a Fred Zeilinga score as the Cheetahs took control.
Elliot Dee pulled a try back before Clayton Blommetjies' bonus-point score finished off home hopes.
The Dragons started positively with scrum-half Sarel Pretorius having a touch-down against his old side ruled out for obstruction, before Hewitt earned the reward for a good support angle with a 12th-minute try after strong approach work by Zane Kirchner and Hallam Amos.
Arwel Robson converted and landed a snap drop-goal to cancel out Niel Marais' penalty.
But the rest of the first half produced few clear-cut chances as the Dragons took a 10-3 lead into the break, spurning a shot at goal for an unsuccessful line-out drive just before the interval.
Cheetahs come out firing
The visitors struck inside 25 seconds of the restart as full-back Blommetjies tore through some weak tackling to put Maxwane over, while fly-half Zeilinga danced through more weak defending to score nine minutes later, Marais adding both sets of extras for a 17-10 lead.
The Dragons conceded another soft score on the hour when they gave away possession and a long hack downfield saw the speedy Maxwane win the race to the touch-down.
Dee's close-range effort converted by Robson gave the Dragons brief hope, but a searing break by man-of-the-match Blommetjies earned the Cheetahs the crucial bonus point in their chase for a play-off place, Zeilinga converting.
Pretorius came off to an ovation in his final home match in Newport, but it was his former club left celebrating their first win in either Britain or Ireland in their first season in the Pro14.
Meanwhile the Dragons still have not won in the league since beating the Southern Kings in September 2017.
Head coach Bernard Jackman told BBC Wales Sport: "We're very disappointed we can't give our supporters those wins they deserve, we missed an opportunity to give Sarel a good send-off tonight with a win in our last home game in Rodney Parade.
"But I hope they can see there wasn't a lack of effort, it was just composure at the key moments and that'll come with more game time and more understanding of the systems, and we're bringing in a bit more experience over the summer."
Dragons: Zane Kirchner; Ashton Hewitt, Sam Beard, Connor Edwards, Hallam Amos; Arwel Robson, Sarel Pretorius; Sam Hobbs, Elliot Dee, Lloyd Fairbrother, Joe Davies, Cory Hill (capt), Harrison Keddie, Aaron Wainwright, Lewis Evans
Replacements: Ellis Shipp, Gerard Ellis, Dan Suter, Max Williams, Taine Basham, Dan Babos, Adam warren, Jared Rosser
Cheetahs: Clayton Blommetjies; William Small-Smith, Francois Venter (capt), Niel Marais, Sibhale Maxano; Fred Zeilinga, Tian Meyer; Ox Nche, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Johan Coetzee, Justin Basson, Reniel Hugo, Paul Schoeman, Oupa Mohoje, Uzair Cassiem
Replacements: Jacques du Toit, Erich de Jager, Tom Botha, Carl Wegner, Henco Venter, Zee Mkhabela, Clinton Swart, AJ Coertzen
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)
Touch judges: Ben Whitehouse (WRU), Mike English (WRU)
TMO: Jon Mason (WRU)