Dragons boss Lyn Jones hails outstanding Justin Tipuric
LYN Jones sportingly saluted Justin Tipuric as a class apart after the Wales and Lions forward helped the Ospreys hand the Dragons their heaviest defeat of the season.
As a former international No. 7 himself, the Dragons director of rugby could only admire the superlative quality of Tipuric, who marked his 50th Pro12 appearance with a magnificent display of openside skills, embellished by two tries.
Jones was bitterly disappointed with his side's performance — but took time out to comment on the man of the match in the Ospreys' 40-17 win.
"Justin Tipuric was excellent, outstanding and in lots of respects it was disappointing he didn't get a hat-trick," said Jones.
"It's nice to observe and appreciate good rugby play.
"When there were 29 other players slugging it out in the first half, he just kept himself above everybody, and he carried on like that throughout the second half.
"He was like two players on the field."
Tipuric's stats point to his excellence in attack and defence against the Dragons, the Trebanos man making a remarkable four clean breaks and putting in 13 tackles.
His support play was that good at times that he often appeared to be operating with a sixth sense: wherever the ball was, he was.
It was a workaholic display that would have given Warren Gatland plenty to think about ahead of Wales's autumn series, with skipper Sam Warburton operating in the same position as Tipuric.
But Jones, once hailed by the late Brian Thomas as the "fittest, fastest, cleverest and best back-row forward in Britain", believes Wales's coach will relish having two such class breakaways in his squad.
"It's what international rugby is all about," he said.
"It's about having players on top of their game in several positions who are the envy of other countries.
"At the moment Wales are blessed to have two opensides who proved against England last season they can play together.
"If you're choosing between them it's a tough choice but that's why Warren is where he is, to make those decisions."
The Dragons' chief was less impressed with his own side's effort at the Liberty, having seen them miss 33 tackles and survive on just 25 per cent of the possession in the second half.
"We weren't good enough," said Jones.
"Lots of players were giving everything they had and sadly other boys were missing tackles like a division one side.
"Some performances just weren't up to regional standard.
"We didn't kick very intelligently, which gave the Ospreys the field position and possession to affect the game.
"And you can't defend for 80 per cent of a match, because you are going to get tired. When you have the ball you must hold onto it and play. We just couldn't do that.
"We are not putting our heads in the sand and pretending this was a one-night stand.
"The Ospreys was a watershed for us and a measurement for a lot of players.
"Newport Gwent Dragons are showing signs of ambition, I want this club to move forward and I want players to take the opportunities to show me and everybody that they are the ones to do that.
"That was not a performance for a regional side in Wales. Simple as that."