The hosts' tries at Emirates Airline Park came from wing Edwill van der Merwe (2), replacement prop Asenathi Ntlabakanye and flyhalf Gianni Lombard, who also added a further seven points from the tee.

Jordan Williams, Rhodri Williams, Sam Davies and Jack Dixon went over for the Dragons, with Davies’ boot contributing an additional 11 points.

It was an enthralling first half as neither side was able to wrestle control, with Lombard exchanging early penalties with his Dragons counterpart Davies before both sides notched two tries apiece before the half hour mark.

Fullback Jordan Williams crashed over in the corner for Dragons before Lombard hit back for the Johannesburgers with an opportunistic score.

Ntlabakanye then rumbled over for the hosts amid a well-constructed maul, but scrumhalf Rhodri Williams dotted down in response for the Welsh region after a sniping break from close range.

The Dragons went into halftime with the advantage as Rhodri Williams made another clever break and found Davies with an offload, who crossed and converted to put the visitors 24-17 up.

But after the break the momentum swung back in the Emirates Lions’ favour with Van der Merwe crossing twice within four minutes, the first created by a smart kick from replacement flyhalf Hendrikse, and the second by a surging run from flanker Jaco Kriel.

However, the Dragons found a response once again as Dixon wriggled over on 58 minutes after more good work from Rhodri Williams.

Both sides had chances to snatch victory late on, with Davies off-target with a drop-goal before Hendrikse came close with a penalty goal from halfway in the final act of the game. Both sides took three points from the contest thanks to bonus points for tries scored.

The Emirates Lions will enjoy home comforts again next weekend when they host Stade Français Paris in Round 2 on Friday, with the Dragons entertaining Section Paloise a week today.


Emirates Lions 31 (17) - Tries: Edwill van der Merwe (2), Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Gianni Lombard. Conversions: Lombard (2), Jordan Hendrikse (2). Penalty goal: Lombard.

Dragons 31 (24) - Tries: Jordan Williams, Rhodri Williams, Sam Davies, Jack Dixon. Conversions: Davies (4). Penalty goal: Davies.