Dragons: Try: Price. Pens: Prydie (6). Drops: Steffan Jones (3).
Edinburgh: Tries: Brown, Visser. Con: Leonard.
The Scots outscored the home side by two tries to one, prolific left wing Tim Visser making one and scoring one, but six out of six penalties by Tom Prydie and three drop goals from Steffan Jones took the home side comfortably clear.
It was a question of how many rather than how as they took their chances to put points on the board whenever they came their way, whereas Edinburgh were attractive to watch but ultimately profligate in finishing off opportunities.
They also missed a couple of penalties of their own which would have kept the game close for longer, as well as being down to 13 men at one point – albeit unfortunately.
Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley had rung the changes with virtually half the team changed from the previous week but a similar overall strength of side for the trip to a ground where the Scots have an awful record.
It was certainly a sign of Bradley’s greater confidence in the depth of his squad this season that he was prepared to make the changes without fielding a significantly weaker side – Laidlaw out, Visser in as an example of the changes.
However if they needed a boost early on it came with the sight of Wales back rower Dan Lydiate, Six Nations player-of-the-season earlier this year, limping off with an ankle injury in the second minute which left the home side as only Toby Faletau as a current Wales player on the pitch.
Bradley’s team have played with admirable width all season and that brought its rewards ten minutes in with the opening try of the match.
Harry Leonard at outside half had the home side thinking as his quick feet usually took him past the first defender. His flip pass put left wing Tim Visser into space up the middle and he sent out a 20 yard pass to put fellow wing Tom Brown into the corner. Leonard maintained his positive early impression by landing the conversion from the right hand touchline.
Edinburgh continued to do most of the pressing, but were maybe a little too lose and mistakes meant that the Dragons were able to gain territory and then penalties.
Wing Tom Prydie may have been inconsistent with the boot this season but he was in form at Rodney Parade for this one, knocking over his first three kicks – including one from his own half – to give his team a lead against the run of play.
By contrast Leonard missed with two penalty attempts, but Edinburgh pressure saw the home side give away a series of ruck penalties and eventually referee John Lacey of Ireland sent hooker Steve Jones to the sin bin.
However things were soon evened up, though Edinburgh captain Sean Cox can consider himself extremely unlucky to have been sent for an enforced rest.
Fellow lock Robert McAlpine took out Dragons second row Ian Nimmo as he collected a kick off. It was touch and go whether it was a penalty at all, but the touch judge got involved and singled out Cox as the offender.
You have to wonder how good a view of the incident he really got to make that decision if he could not even identify the correct offender when it was obvious from the stand much further away.
It proved to be a hammer blow for Edinburgh though, as the penalty set up a Dragons lineout inside the visiting 22. A move at the front of the lineout saw prop Phil Price streaking away for a sucker-punch of a try in the corner. Prydie missed his first kick of the night with the conversion, but the damage was done as the half-time whistle blew. 17-7 in favour of the home team at half-time did not reflect the first half fairly, but it did show that Edinburgh needed to tighten up on their handling after the break.
Having issued two yellow cards for offences which hardly warranted the punishment, referee Lacey probably felt he was being consistent when he sent flanker Ross Rennie to join them for a ruck offence in front of the posts. Prydie converted the penalty and Edinburgh were both further behind and down to 13 men.
They nearly scored despite the disadvantage when scrum half Richie Rees broke towards the posts but the move ended in a knock on.
Dragons outside half Steffan Jones landed a sweetly struck 40 yard drop goal to extend the home side’s lead, but once they were back up to 15 Edinburgh tried to re-assert themselves.
Dragons: D Evans; A Hughes, P Leach, A Tuilagi, T Prydie; Steffan Jones, J Evans; P Price, Steve Jones, D Way, I Nimmo, A Jones, D Lydiate, L Evans (Capt), T Faletau. Subs: S Parry for S Jones (57), A Coundley for Price (72), N Buck for Way (57), J Groves for D Lydiate (2), T Brown for Faletau (67), L Davies, A Smith for Tuilagi (61), W Harries.
Edinburgh: G Tonks; T Brown, N De Luca, B Atiga, T Visser; H Leonard, R Rees; A Jacobsen, A Titterell, G Cross, R McAlpine, S Cox (Capt), S McInally, R Rennie, N Talei. Subs: A Walker for Titterell (75), J Yapp for Jacobsen (63), L Niven for Cross (61), D Basilaia for Talei (60), R Grant for McAlpine (75), C Leck for Rees 67, J Houston, D Fife for Leonard (63).