/ Rugby

Dragons 31-26 Leinster

Updated: Saturday, 10 May 2008 12:49

Leinster's Chris Keane is brought to a halt Dragons' Colin Charvis leads the charge
Leinster's Chris Keane is brought to a halt Dragons' Colin Charvis leads the charge

Newport-Gwent Dragons and champions Leinster saved one of the best Magners League matches of the season until the last weekend as the Welshmen scored a famous victory at Rodney Parade.

The two sides served up an eight-try feast on a balmy evening in Newport and it was a sweet victory for the Welsh region as they avenged a 41-8 thumping in Dublin last Saturday.

It was champagne rugby all around and, although Leinster are already champions, the Dragons caught them cold not just once but twice at the start of an incredible first half.

And it was the home centres who caused the damage in both the opening moves.

Rhodri Gomer-Davies retrieved a chip over the Leinster back division with a brilliant one-handed catch before watching hooker Steve Jones steam through a gap on the right for the first touchdown.

Not to be outdone, Gomer-Davies' partner, Phil Dollman, side-stepped and swerved his way past the Leinster midfield to the try-line before laying it off to scrum-half Wayne Evans to cross.

And the incredible turn of events continued as the Dragons secured a four-try bonus point.

Prop Hugh Gustafson rumbled down the right into the corner from 10 metres before the outstanding Dollman got the fourth in exactly the same spot.

Outside-half Jason Tovey converted two of the tries while Leinster only had a penalty from stand-off Jonathan Sexton to show for the match.

But in the second half Leinster centre Michael Berne ran in unopposed from 15 metres to score and wing Shane Horgan gave Girvan Dempsey a scoring pass in the left corner to reduce to arrears to nine points.

It was not quite as free-scoring after the break as Sexton pulled Leinster back to within a converted try of victory with a penalty.

When the Dragons pulled away again as replacement prop Adam Black crashed over from two metres, with Ceri Sweeney converting, Leinster held on as Berne got his second touchdown of the night after home replacement Adam Jones was sin-binned.

The finale was tantalising too as Sexton took a penalty in front of the posts two minutes into injury time as flanker James Harris became the second Dragon to be binned.

It left the Dubliners a last chance to score a converted try to win the game, but they only got to halfway and gave away a penalty for the Dragons' celebrations to begin.