Bath Rugby were denied a second successive pre-season win this evening against a resilient Dragons side at Rodney Parade, final-score 22-20.
The first-half was a closely fought encounter, dominated largely by both set of forwards. In slippery conditions, both teams struggled to maintain any decent possession but it was Newport who thought they had the early breakthrough, crossing over the line only for the ball to be held up.
Pressure on the Bath line eventually told and the Dragons drew first blood. Dan Evans touched down for the opening try after quick hands from a scrum led to the fullback sneaking over in the corner. Fly-half Jason Tovey converted after 13 minutes played. 7-0.
Bath had an instant chance to respond through George Ford, but his penalty drifted just wide of the mark. Ford soon found himself with a chance to make amends though, after a dominant driving maul from the Bath pack. This time there was no mistake with the kick from the fly-half. 7-3
The boys in Blue, Black and White were beginning to find some momentum and following some more good work, big bulldozing runs and an initial jinking run from Micky Young , Rob Webber found a small gap in the defence to dart over the line. Ford was on target with the conversion, taking the score to 7-10.
Half-time score: Newport Gwent Dragons 7 - Bath Rugby 10.
Bath made two changes at half-time with Martin Roberts and Anthony Watson coming on for Micky Young and Semesa Rokoduguni, with Watson making an instant impact on proceedings, stretching for the line only to have been ruled just short by the referee.
Two successive penalties for the Dragons, one from the half-way line, put them back in the lead and control of the game, but Bath instantly responded through some fine individual play by Watson. The young back took advantage of a loose pass amongst the Dragons, chipped the ball ahead, gathered his own kick and sprinted away to dive over the line. Tom Heathcote was on target with the conversion to move Bath back into the lead after 66 minutes. 13-17.
The game looked set for a close finish when the Dragons were awarded a straightforward penalty in front of the posts, from which Kris Burton moved his side back into the lead, leaving just one point in it.
Indiscipline then threatened to cost the Dragons as Lewis Evans and a few minutes later Ian Nimmo were both sent to the sin bin for deliberate foul play. However, it was the hosts who edged further in-front with another penalty, this time for Jason Tovey.
A nervy final few minutes were in store for both teams and their supporters, as Bath were then awarded a penalty. Heathcote remaining composed to slot the ball between the posts and give his side a slender one point lead.
Just as the game looked to be over, the Dragons then had a last minute penalty opportunity of their own - Tovey was again on target for his team.
With a matter of seconds remaining on the clock, the game restarted with the visitors mustering another good strong driving maul. Their efforts looked to have paid off as the referee awarded Bath with a chance to snatch the win right at the death and in the process had another man sent to the sin bin.
Heathcote lined up the kick but it drifted agonizingly wide, just denying the visitors a second successive pre-season victory.
Final-score: Newport Gwent Dragons 22 Bath Rugby 20
Bath Rugby team to face Newport Gwent Dragons
15. Ollie Devoto
14. Semesa Rokoduguni
13. Jonathan Joseph
12. Kyle Eastmond
11. Tom Biggs
10. George Ford
9. Micky Young
1. Charlie Beech
2. Rob Webber
3. David Wilson
4. Stuart Hooper ( c )
5. Dave Attwood
6. Matt Garvey
7. Guy Mercer
8. Leroy Houston
16. Ross Batty
17. Anthony Perenise
18. Kane Palma-Newport
19. Dominic Day
20. Mat Gilbert
21. Martin Roberts
22. Tom Heathcote
23. Anthony Watson
Players with no number on their shirt