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WRU Championship Update

29th September 2005

The Blues gave up a great opportunity to defeat the Dragons on the opening night of this season's WRU Regional under 20 Championships.

The Dragons had three players yellow carded during the game, but managed to hold on against an out of sorts Blues side who also had captain Bradley Davies binned in the second half.

They led mid way through the second half and looked odds on to win the game at a rain-sodden Abertillery Park. However, the Dragons hit back and then held on to win an error-strewn contest.

Conditions, on this the opening night for the Dragons and Blues, were torrid to say the least - heavy rain and a gusting wind causing both sides problems before Blues outside half Jason Murphy broke the deadlock with a penalty from 25 metres.

Opposite number Ashley Smith levelled matters on 14 minutes, but Murphy's second, a minute later, restored the Blues' three point lead. And that was how it remained until a five metre scrum, on 22 minutes, provided the Dragons with a perfect platform to score the opening try of the night. No.8 Lewis Evans picked up and Daniel Robinson arrived on the angle from inside centre to force his way over.

The Dragons posed a significant threat from the base of the scrum with Evans and scrum half Rob Lewis defying the conditions to keep their side on the front foot. In fact had it not have been for some understandable handling mistakes elsewhere, they might have been well clear at half time.

As it was, the home side turned around with a modest two point lead and with only 14 men after lock Bryn Jenkins was yellow-carded for pulling down a rolling maul.

Murphy missed kickable penalties either side of the break as the Blues threatened to expose the absence of Jenkins and then hooked a drop goal wide of the posts.

A second yellow for the Dragons, this time for Will Jones, meant another 10 minutes without a full complement during which time the Blues were awarded a penalty try by referee Ken Bowen. Rubbing salt into the wound Mr Bowen then sent Ben Flower to the bin.

The Dragons made light of their numerical problems after 55 minutes when a length of the field handling movement involving no fewer than nine players ended with replacement Chris Vitalini crossing.

Blues captain and blindside Davies became the fourth player to be binned - for obstruction - and a minute after his departure, Lewis picked up, combined with Vitalini to send in left wing Marcus Johnstone for a try that won the day.

It was always likely to be a nip and tuck affair at Stradey Park between last season's finalists. However, the Scarlets made full use of home advantage on a filthy night to kick off their season with a 27-18 victory over the Ospreys.

On Saturday, Blues North and South meet at Brecon (11am) whilst on Sunday the under 18s take on the Ospreys at Pontypridd's Dardis Road.

Team news to follow shortly.