After an overnight journey to Pontefract, the Dragons Premiership Select team were under no illusions of the challenge that lay ahead of them.
Yorkshire Carnegie currently sit near the top of the Greene King IPA Championship and are known for their powerful forwards game and quick attacking backs.
The Dragons PS fielded a young team (average age of 21 years, with 9 players still eligible for U20s rugby) and after some positive kicking from Arwel Robson allowed the Dragons PS to pressure the Carnegie lineout which sent captain James Benjamin crashing over to take a swift 5-0 lead.
The game continued as an arm wrestle for the next 30 minutes, with both teams creating chances but failing to capitalise. Carnegie, however, finished the brighter of the two scoring two tries to go into the half 10-5 up after stretching the Dragons defence.
At half time, there was no panic in the room as the players and coaches had expected to be in a battle for most of the game. The plan was to stick to the game plan, execute a strong territory game and make the most of any possession in the opposition half.
However, the second half started much where the first left off and the young Dragons team had to weather the Carnegie storm. Wave after wave of attack by Yorkshire was repelled as the Dragons failed to exit out of their half playing into a strong wind. After 25 minutes of defence, the defence finally gave out and Yorkshire crashed over to extended their lead.
Half Time: Yorkshire Carnegie17 – Dragons 5
The game looked dead but entering the last 5 minutes, the Dragons came alive and after some opportunistic attack, James Benjamin scored his second try from close range after a strong driving lineout.
With a bonus point in reach and the game entering the dying minutes, Yorkshire kicked long from the restart only for the Dragons PS to concede a penalty almost immediately from the reception. The Yorkshire outside half took the 3 points and it looked like the Dragons would travel back to Gwent with nothing.
Dragons PS kicked off for what appeared to be the final time but, with nothing to lose they pressured Yorkshire into an error and from the resulting penalty, the Henri Williams scored, again from close range, with a driving lineout try. There was still 90s on the clock so the Dragons raced back to half way to receive the kick, only to make an error on the kick off and the game was over. Final score was Yorkshire Carnegie 20, Dragons Premiserhip Select 17.
There were a few notable performers in the game, with Craig Mitchell using his experience to anchor the Dragons scrum and put some solid shots around the field. James Benjamin lead by example whilst Andrew Waite and newly signed Robson Blake were outstanding in the back row.
We look forward to hosting Yorkshire next Saturday 17th December, 3pm kick off at CSE Sporting Centre of Excellence, Ystrad Mynach. Tickets available at the Dragons ticket office.