CAPTAIN Lewis Evans has admitted Newport Gwent Dragons can have no complaints about being given the unwanted tag of fourth Welsh region after falling short in derby battles.
The Dragons welcome the Ospreys to Rodney Parade on New Year’s Eve and do so with only winless Zebre beneath them in the RaboDirect Pro12 table.
At the halfway stage of the campaign, their bid for Heineken Cup rugby next season is over barring a miracle with Cardiff Blues ten points ahead of them.
That is because the region from the capital won the eastern derby in the Arms Park mud on Boxing Day despite the visitors dominating the game.
The Dragons had the nudge in the set piece and won the battle of the forwards yet failed to take their chances, leaving them with a solitary bonus point rather than the four their performance should have yielded.
Amid talk of the Welsh Rugby Union pushing to turn them into a development region, skipper Evans was left to bemoan the Dragons’ failure to make a timely point.
“I don’t want to be the fourth region but as it stands we still are and deserve to be,” said the 25-year-old flanker. “Unless we start beating our rivals that will never change.
“Boxing Day was another massive opportunity lost. The Blues beat us at Rodney Parade at the start of the season when we didn’t play well and we lost in Cardiff when we turned up and put in a big performance; I don’t know which is more frustrating.
“We have to start backing up what we say because we can’t argue when people label us the fourth region and we haven’t deserved to have the bragging rights against our Welsh counterparts. “Dejection was the feeling after the game against the Blues and there has to be a lot of honesty from players and coaches when we analyse it.
“Because it’s already a frustrating season and if we don’t sort it out sooner or later then we will really be staring down the barrel.”
It doesn’t get any easier for the Dragons with the in-form Ospreys – fresh from a European Cup triumph against Toulouse and derby hammering of the Scarlets – next up.
The record books do, however, give Monday’s hosts some hope to cling on to.
The west Walians have won just once in Newport since the inception of regional rugby in 2003.
“It’s always a massive game against the Ospreys,” said Evans. “We’ve had some good results against them over the years and could desperately do with another.”