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Ruddock’S Men Up To Second

Defending the league’s only unbeaten home record, the Dragons took time to settle down before hitting the stubborn Irishmen with two tries in a six minute purple patch just before the break.

Those two tries turned a slender three point advantage into a healthy15 point lead and Jasoin Forster’s men never looked back from there.

‘It would have been nice to have secured the bonus point that would have put us level on points with Ulster at the top of the table, but I think everyone at the club can feel happy with us being in second place,’ said Dragons coach Mike Ruddock.

‘The Celtic League is our bread and butter this season and even though we’ve had to blend together a new team, things are going well for us. We were able to reintroduce our World Cup players into the side today and now we’ve got the Heineken Cup to look forward to.’

Scottish No 8 Ross Beattie, Canadian prop Rod Snow and Welsh lock Michael Owen were all second half replacements for the Dragons as Ruddock finally got the chance to use his full squad.

Even though Connacht, who started the game one place above the Dragons in third in the table, had the better of the opening exchanges at the start of the second half, clawing their back to within nine points, the home side had the try scoring potential to stetch their lead.

That potential was amply demonstrated at the end of the first half when livewire hooker Steve Jones popped up inside centre Steve Winn to take a scoring pass two metres out from the Connacht posts.

Then, six minutes later, a quick feed off the top of a line-out gave the Dragons’ backs the chance to show what they could do and Lee Jarvis and Hal Luscombe carved out a great score for left wing Ben Breeze.

The reliable boot of centre Mark McHugh kept Connacht in contention but, after his third penalty had cut the gap to nine points, the Dragons back division exploded once more and this time Luscombe breached the visitors’ defence.

His try at the posts, converted by Jarvis, made it 25-9 and should have been the catalyst for the all important fourth, bonus point try.

But Connacht regrouped, grabbed a try of their own through skipper and hooker Bernard Jackman, and McHugh’s boot landed five more points to bring the Irishmen back to within seven points four minutes from time.

That scoreline would have earned Conacht a thoroughly deserved bonus point, but the Dragons went back onto the attack and almost grabbed a fourth try.

Instead, they had to be content with a third penalty from infront of the posts from Jarvis to round off proceedings and make victory totally safe.

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