Winger Thom Evans touched down twice at Rodney Parade on Sunday as Glasgow Warriors battled past the Newport Gwent Dragons to secure their first away win in this season’s Magners League.
The Dragons, winless since beating Glasgow at Firhill in January, recovered from an early 10-0 deficit to take a deserved 14-10 lead into half-time.
But Paul Turner’s men were made to pay for some poor tackling, indiscipline and missed place kicks – Aled Thomas was wide with three penalty attempts and a conversion kick – as Glasgow claimed only their second win seven league games.
Indeed, this was the Scots’ first win over the Dragons since March 2004 and a timely one at that as it puts just six points between them and rivals Edinburgh in the standings, ahead of their inter-city derby on April 11.
In a fluid opening, both sides looked to make the early running.
The Dragons were presented with the first scoring opportunities but fly-half Thomas twice failed with penalties – he hit an upright with his second attempt in the 12th-minute.
The Warriors managed to open the scoring six minutes later with a team try. Sam Pinder, playing his 100th game for the club, and Dan Parks combined well and the visitors found space out on the right where Kelly Brown put Thom Evans over.
Parks converted and soon added a penalty for a 10-0 lead, 22 minutes into the fray.
Thomas redeemed himself by knocking a 15-metre penalty through the posts and he added a second in the 31st-minute to cut the gap to 10-6.
Glasgow could have been further in front but as they swarmed forward after full-back Bernardo Stortoni had gathered a garryowen from Parks, prop Moray Low’s overhead pass by cut out by Dragons lock Luke Charteris and the home defence held firm.
The Dragons then noticeably upped the tempo, with their passes beginning to stick, and they got over for a try through winger Gareth Wyatt three minutes before the break.
Joe Bearman snapped up turnover ball on the visitors’ 10-metre line, centres Ashley Smith and Rhodri Gomer Davies linked and then set Kevin Morgan free down the right before he put Wyatt, his former Pontypridd club-mate, over for the score.
Thomas missed the conversion from the touchline but he was able to add a penalty in injury-time for a 14-10 advantage.
In between, Gomer Davies agonisingly dropped the ball as the Dragons strung together some excellent passes in the lead-up to what should have been another try.
Unfortunately for the Dragons support, their number 10 Thomas was again wide with a penalty attempt six minutes into the second half.
Parks, the Scotland stan-off, helped turn the screw for Glasgow when he bisected the posts with a 55th-minute penalty after hands in the ruck from Rhys Thomas.
As home coach Turner came down from his station in the stand and introduced fresh legs off the bench, things improved further for Glasgow.
A pinpoint crossfield kick from Parks, after a quick feed from replacement Colin Gregor on the Dragons’ 22, was plucked out of the air by Thom Evans who was able to round the covering Bearman and make the line.
It was a memorable day for Evans and his family as it was only them second time that he and his older brother Max had featured in the team together.
Parks swung over an excellent conversion to push his side into a 20-14 lead. Chasing the game, the Dragons’ error count increased and their frustration grew as the visitors’ put up a defensive wall for the remainder.
Parks missed a 70th-minute drop goal shot, setting up a tense finale, but there was no denying Glasgow their first win on Welsh soil since they beat Llanelli at Stradey Park back in April 2005.