United Rugby Championship: Dragons 10-31 Bulls - Willie Le Roux inspires Bulls to win

United Rugby Championship

Dragons (3) 10

Try: Baldwin Con: Reed Pen: Evans

Bulls (10) 31

Tries: Arendse, Williams, Papier, Grobbelaar Cons: Smith 4 Pen: Smith

World Cup winner Willie Le Roux inspired Bulls to a hard-earned victory that sent Dragons bottom of the United Rugby Championship (URC).

The Springboks full-back set up tries in either half for Kurt-Lee Arendse and Mpilo Gumede in a man-of-the-match performance at Rodney Parade.

Corey Baldwin capped a gutsy display by the hosts with a late try.

But Embrose Papier crossed before hooker Johan Grobbelaar claimed an 81st-minute bonus point for Bulls.

The late bonus ensured Bulls remain second in the URC behind leaders Leinster while Dragons are now bottom following Sharks' earlier victory over Ulster.

However, the scoreline was hard on Dragons who produced a display full of character against one of the title favourites, though had little cutting edge.

Erstwhile Wales prop Rhodri Jones made his 150th league appearance alongside hooker Brodie Coughlan, whose club debut lasted only 24 minutes before a head injury.

By then Cai Evans had traded penalties with Chris Smith as the hosts made a lively start.

Will Reed got his body underneath Mpilo Gumede to deny the Bulls flanker a score but his needless yellow card on 26 minutes left the Dragons short-staffed to prevent the game's opening try.

It took a bounce of the ball to wrong-foot the Dragons defence but Smith and Le Roux combined for Arendse to speed over for a 10-3 half-time lead.

Le Roux was again the creator for the Bulls' second soon after the break with a perfectly weighted cross-field kick to Devon Williams that left Gumede with an easy finish.

Trailing 17-3, Dai Flanagan turned to Aaron Wainwright to provide a lift while Ben Carter returned for his first appearance since November following a serious hamstring injury.

Wainwright carried hard and Carter stole possession at the lineout as Dragons frustrated the visitors for much of the second half until Papier crossed five minutes from time.

Dragons were finally rewarded moments later when wing Baldwin won the race to Steff Hughes' smart kick.

But Elliot Dee conceded a late penalty from the restart that ended with opposite number Grobbelaar finishing a devastating Bulls lineout drive for the bonus point.

Dragons head coach Dai Flanagan said: "It's disappointing that some big decisions didn't go our way, particularly when still in the game at 17-3 and going close to the line.

"I've spoken to the ref [Eoghan Cross] and said it's not fair on my players. He's a good ref but it's a four-man job and he needs support.

"We deserved more than the score shows. We executed a plan against their physicality. We contained them, showed composure and kept the ball for periods. We just wanted to score more tries."

Dragons: Cai Evans; Ewan Rosser, Joe Westwood, Steff Hughes (capt), Corey Baldwin; Will Reed, Rhodri Williams; Rhodri Jones, Brodie Coghlan, Chris Coleman, Matthew Screech, George Nott, Dan Lydiate, Sean Lonsdale, Taine Basham.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Rodrigo Martinez, Luke Yendle, Ben Carter, Harri Keddie, Aaron Wainwright, Dane Blacker, Jared Rosser.

Sin bin: Reed (26)

Bulls: Willie Le Roux, Sebastian De Klerk, Canan Moodie, Harold Vorster, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Chris Smith, Zak Burger; Marcell Coetzee, Mpilo Gumede, Marco Van Staden, Ruan Nortje, Ruan Vermaak, Wilco Louw, Jan Hendrik Wessels, Gerhard Steenekamp

Replacements: Johan Grobbelaar, Simphiwe Matanzin, Mornay Smith, Reinhardt Ludwig, Nizaam Carr, Embrose Papier, Johan Goosen, Devon Williams

Referee: Eoghan Cross (IRFU)

Assistant referees: Ben Breakspear & Elgan Williams (WRU)

TMO: Mark Patton (IRFU)

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