DRAGONS boss Bernard Jackman will resist the temptation to ring the changes for the European Rugby Challenge Cup opener at Newcastle.

The Rodney Parade region ended the first block of Guinness PRO14 action with a derby defeat at Cardiff Blues last Friday.

They now head into the Challenge Cup with back-to-back away games at Newcastle on Saturday and Enisei-STM in Moscow the following weekend.

The Dragons have been hit hard by injuries – they were without 27 players in training at the start of last week – and have relied heavily on their first XV.

Jackman rested his prime players en bloc in the defeat to Ulster in round four of the PRO14 but will not do the same for the trip to Kingston Park.

"We are going to play most of the same group," said Jackman. "There's British and Irish Cup as well, so we can give everyone else a run and bring in some guys from around the Premiership.

"We have two away games first up and might rotate a little bit but the nucleus of our squad will be the guys that played at Cardiff Blues, we only have one team really."

Wings Ashton Hewitt (ankle) and Jared Rosser (hip) could return after failing late fitness tests for the Arms Park derby while lock Rynard Landman (calf) is set to be back in contention.

The Dragons head to the north east of England hunting a first away win since beating Gloucester in the quarter-finals of the competition in 2016.

They led the Blues 21-10 at half-time at the Arms Park thanks to tries by wings Adam Warren and George Gasson and hooker Elliot Dee only to run out of steam with the game gone by the time prop Lloyd Fairbrother barged over for a four-try consolation bonus.

"Obviously their bench had a big impact but I take responsibility for that loss, we weren't as organised as we needed to be in terms of our exits," said Jackman after the 43-29 loss.

"That's just a consequence of a new coaching staff and a new project; you have to spend a lot of time doing those basics.

"We started really well and the first half was good but the wind was a lot stronger than it looked.

"We had to play into it second half and couldn't get out of there – we were trapped in our 22 and even when we forced a turnover we didn't exit well and they came right back at us.

"Defensively we had some decent sets but we struggled to relieve pressure. It was a coaching error rather than talent, I take responsibility for that and I am looking forward to fixing them.

"The average age of our team in the first six games is 24.8, so we've got a young side and we are on the right track.

"The reason Cardiff Blues won is that they have more depth and Danny [Wilson, head coach] has them better drilled than my team.

"I don't think my first choice XV aren't as good as theirs, we just lack a little bit of depth and need more time with the group.

"We have finished the first block of games with 10 points, ideally we'd have some more but I know that we are on the right track."

The Falcons have made an impressive start to the Aviva Premiership and head into Europe on the back of a four-try bonus consolation from a 34-24 loss at champions Exeter.

The Dragons played Newcastle in the 2014/15 Challenge Cup, losing to the Englishmen at Rodney Parade before a wonderful 40-29 win at Kingston Park secured quarter-final qualification.

The other Pool One fixture sees Enisei host Bordeaux-Begles, third in the Top 14 thanks to a weekend win against Toulon, on Friday.