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Montgomery penalty sees Dragons scrape win over Ulster

jmcconnell 3 Feb 2005

This much-needed victory kept alive the Dragons´ hopes of a top-four finish as they recorded a season´s double over the struggling Irishmen. But Ulster punished the Welshmen for an error-strewn opening as David Humphreys landed a drop-goal to give his side a 10th-minute lead.

The below-par Dragons failed to fire and found it hard to score points. Even with Ulster lock Matt McCullough in the sin-bin they could not get their point-scoring act together.Instead, Humphreys nudged Ulster further in front with a 31st-minute penalty as the lacklustre Dragons continued to struggle.In first half stoppage time the Dragons finally found the guile and urgency to unlock the Ulster defence when skipper Jason Forster crossed after good work by hooker Steve Jones who did well to off-load in the tackle.

The conversion by Craig Warlow gave the Welshmen the lead at the interval, which on the balance of play they barely deserved.The tempo picked up in the second half with the Dragons more composed and in control.A penalty by Montgomery after 54 minutes and some measured tactical kicking by Warlow kept the Irishmen on the back foot.Ulster seemed to press the self-destruct button when the normally composed Humphreys was caught in possession in the in-goal area, but they received a let-off when the Dragons were denied a score by another handling error.

Against the run of play and in dramatic fashion Ulster broke down field for Kevin Maggs to send full-back Bryn Cunningham over for an unconverted try to give the visitors a 64th-minute lead.That score injected renewed impetus into the visitors´ play but the Dragons´ resilience came to the fore as Ulster skipper Campbell Feather conceded a penalty which Montgomery converted.

That put the hosts back in the lead with just under four minutes of normal time remaining.Although Ulster had the possession to launch a late rally the Dragons defence stood firm.

News of the shock departure of Dragons head coach Chris Anderson overshadowed the action on the field.As part of a restructuring and cost-cutting drive, which coincides with the withdrawal of benefactor of Tony Brown, the Dragons board announced earlier in the day that Anderson will leave at the end of the season, after less than a year at the helm.It will end a brief but eventful stay in the Principality for the Australian as the Dragons renew the search for a replacement for Mike Ruddock, who built a formidable squad during his time in charge.

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