Match Report: Dragons topple Pau in tense affair
Dragons RFC took a hard-earned four points away from the south of France on Friday night as Ashton Hewitt and Max Clark crossed in a 21-15 victory at Section Paloise in the EPCR Challenge Cup.
Will Reed was the talisman for the Welsh region as he contributed eight points with the boot – a conversion and two penalties coming from the Dragons’ fly-half.
Pau, in response, notched a pair of tries themselves, Daniel Ikpefan and Vincent Pinto the names on the scoresheet – Thibault Debaes and Alex Desperes contributed five points from the tee.
When we said it would be a cracking second half we weren't lying...@SectionPaloise score an absolute WORLDIE in the first minute 🤩#ChallengeCupRugby pic.twitter.com/Az9VOs30zr— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) January 13, 2023
It was the hosts who got off to a fast start as they notched on eight minutes. Ikpefan latched onto his own kick over the Dragons’ defence to dot down for the first points of the night.
The visitors responded quickly, however, with Hewitt the try scorer as he took on a smart inside pass from the hands of Lewis Jones to breach the Pau line and level proceedings at 7-7.
Reed’s first penalty, before Max Clark powered over from close range, opened Dragons’ lead to 15-7 at the break.
The French side needed a quick start to the second half, and they duly delivered. Théo Attissogbe was the catalyst as he broke four tackles before offloading to Clovis Le Bail, who found try scorer Pinto.
Reed added his second penalty of the evening midway through the second period, setting up a nervy close to the game. A dramatic late ending was denied by the Welsh region when replacement JJ Hanrahan calmly extended the lead to nine points with just two minutes remaining.
Desperes did notch a late consolation for the hosts, but it was Dragons who took the spoils in the closely contested Pool B match-up.
Both sides remain in with a chance of advancing to the Round of 16 – Dragons host Emirates Lions next Sunday, while Section Paloise take on Toyota Cheetahs in Italy.