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Sweeney-Inspired Dragons Pip Edinburgh To The Post

jmcconnell 13 Oct 2007

Wales World Cup squad member Ceri Sweeney played a crucial role for the Newport Gwent Dragons for the second week running as his personal haul of 14 points helped the region to a tight win over Edinburgh.

Converted tries from Sweeney and his half-back partner Wayne Evans saw the Dragons take a 14-6 lead into the half-time break at Murrayfield, but it was not until Sweeney crossed in the 70th-minute that victory was in sight.

Edinburgh, hunting for their first win under new coach Andy Robinson, rested their Scotland internationals and put faith in a young line-up which included fit-again number eight Simon Cross as captain.

The Dragons travelled north with four Welsh World Cup players in their starting team, with Sweeney being joined by Kevin Morgan, Michael Owen and Colin Charvis and they got off to the best possible start by nabbing a converted try after just three minutes.

Edinburgh lost their composure at a lineout on halfway and although they won back possession, Sweeney stepped in to pick off an interception and dart through a midfield gap before speeding over for a try that he converted himself.

Sweeney’s opposite number Phil Godman missed a sixth-minute penalty kick but he was on target seven minutes later, before the Dragons fly-half missed a similar chance to reply.

The Welshmen did extend their lead in the 18th-minute when prop Adam Black made some hard yards and scrum half Evans wriggled free of a tackle to cross for his try which Sweeney converted.

Both sides made some uncharacteristic errors in the opening half and continuity was hard to come by for both sets of players, and with the scoring chances drying up, Godman’s second penalty after 28 minutes was the final score of the half.

Half-time came with the Dragons down to 14 men as prop Rhys Thomas saw yellow six minutes before the break for bringing down Simon Cross out of the air at a lineout.

On the restart, Edinburgh won a penalty kick which Alastair Warnock looked to thump through the uprights but the replacement number 10’s kick fell marginally short.

Yet Edinburgh soon went through their best spell of the game and they were rewarded for their hard graft with a fine 47th-minute try from full-back Nick De Luca.

Outside centre Ben Cairns sliced through for the initial break, winger Andrew Turnbull was brought in off his flank to carry forward and a flowing move ended with Matt Mustchin offloading for De Luca to barge his way over from 20 metres out.

That score, converted by Warnock, made a real game of it at 14-13 in the Dragons’ favour. Both managements dipped into their reserves, with a plethora of substitutions made coming up to the hour mark.

With the game in the balance, Edinburgh were still within reach of their seventh win in eight encounters with the Dragons. The Scots looked like the side with all the momentum suddenly, but the rug was pulled from under them when Sweeney followed up a delicate chip forward from Gareth Wyatt to touch down in the corner.

The try-scorer slipped as he attempted to make it a seven-pointer but Sweeney need not have worried as the Dragons stubbornly protected their fragile lead in the closing minutes to move temporarily up to third in the league table.