Newport Gwent Dragons 32 Glasgow Warriors 22
Newport Gwent Dragons got their Heineken Cup campaign off to a flying start to beat the battling Glasgow Warriors.
The boot of home fly-half James Arlidge proved the difference as both teams ran in three tries – the Dragons through Gareth Wyatt (two) and Colin Charvis, while Lome Fa’atau, Max Evans and Alastair Kellock crossed for the visitors.
Glasgow suffered a major blow before kick-off when Scotland international Dan Parks was ruled out after failing to recover from a twisted knee suffered in training over a week ago.
Parks had kicked Glasgow to victory at the Dragons’ Rodney Parade ground at the start of the season in the Magners League.
From the start, it looked like the Scotsmen were in for a tough afternoon as the Welsh region piled on the pressure, full-back Phil Dollman losing the ball as he stretched to touchdown under the posts in the opening three minutes.
But, as the Dragons pressed towards the line, Glasgow hit them with a sucker-punch.
New Zealand fly-half Arlidge’s pass to Australian centre Rory Sidey was intercepted by Warriors’ wing Fa’atau for a 95-metre sprint under the posts, making Colin Gregor’s conversion simple.
That set the scene for a good first-half contest where play went from end to end and both teams survived moments where they could have conceded tries.
Fa’atau nearly went over again in the left corner when he was put away just a few metres from the line but dropped the ball.
Gregor, the replacement at stand-off for Parks, kicked Glasgow into a 10-0 lead after 19 minutes, however the visitors soon found themselves living off scraps of possession and defending their territory.
A brilliant tackle by hooker Dougie Hall on Dragons prop Adam Black two metres from his line prevented a first home touchdown following a sustained attack involving several forwards.
The only points on the board by the half-hour were two penalties from Arlidge.
But when flanker Kelly Brown found himself sin-binned for an infringement at a ruck, it signalled a turnaround in fortunes for the home side.
They attacked again through former Wales captain Charvis, the Dragons flanker, for Arlidge to feed centre Marc Stcherbina and send wing Wyatt over in the corner.
Arlidge failed with the conversion but added a 30-metre drop-goal on the stroke of half-time to give his side a 14-10 lead.
And, while Brown was still warming the bench, Arlidge further increased the Dragons lead with a penalty in front of the posts.
Glasgow would not give in, though, and levelled the match at 17-17 when centre Evans went in at the corner and Gregor landed a brilliant long-range conversion.
The relief was short-lived, however, as Wyatt squeezed in at the corner for his second try and Charvis gave them a 10-point lead with a third try.
Glasgow continued to fight as captain Kellock drove over from 10 metres to make it 29-22 and, as the changes came off both benches, the Warriors went up a gear.
They were frustrated, though, as Arlidge booted a second drop-goal to restore the 10-point advantage and handling errors let Glasgow down too many times towards the final whistle.