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(No headline) 63

jmcconnell 4 Nov 2004

Newport Gwent Dragons soared to the top of the Celtic League with a stunning 27-19 victory over crack Irish outfit Ulster.

The Dragons met fire with fire after a shaky first half as tries from Lee Jarvis and Hal Luscombe capped a memorable night at a packed Rodney Parade.

The win lifts Mike Ruddock’s men a point ahead of Ulster and into pole position for the title in their first season in existence.

The win was made all the sweeter after Ireland outside-half David Humphreys had inspired Ulster to a 16-9 half-time lead.

Back from international duty against Wales Humphreys took no time in causing yet more agony.

The playmaker chipped the defence but was barged over yards short by Hal Luscombe, on of two Wales squad members released by Steve Hansen for the Dragons.

Passions spilled over just six minutes into the game and when Robbie Kempson and Shawn van Rensburg twice had to be separated amid a flurry of fists that saw the Ulsterman singled out for a yellow card.

The Dragons, coached by forward’s guru Mike Ruddock, looked to make the most of their numerical advantage up front and enjoyed some success by forcing Ulster to concede the game’s first penalty that Percy Montgomery converted.

But behind the scrum it was Ulster who looked the far more dangerous with Humphreys offering a master class in midfield and it was his quick pass that sent No 8 Roger Wilson bounding over in the corner for the game’s first try on 35 minutes.

Humphreys converted and added a succession of penalties as the Dragons lost their cool, the fourth matched that of Montgomery’s at the start of the second half.

But a half-time rollicking had put the wind up the Dragons who came roaring back in the final 20 minutes.

Montgomery’s half-break was finished in the corner by Lee Jarvis but the home side only took the lead when ex-Springbok slotted over a 75th minute penalty.

Humphreys scuffed a chance to retake the lead three minutes from time before Michael Owen put the game out of sight.

His quick thinking from a penalty caught the Ulster defence too busy arguing with referee Iain Ramage and sent over Luscombe for the winning try to deny Ulster even a bonus point.

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