DEAN Ryan says the Dragons can’t be left “drowning” as talks continue about the struggling region’s budget for the next three seasons.

The Rodney Parade side endured a nightmare European Challenge Cup opener at Perpignan on Saturday night when they blew a raft of opportunities and were eventually beaten 22-16.

The Dragons, who have lost six of seven games in the United Rugby Championship, now need to beat French heavyweights Lyon in Newport on Friday to realistically stay in the mix for knockout European rugby.

The on-field struggles have been happening while director of rugby Ryan has lamented their lack of resources that leaves them thin in certain positions.

The Welsh Rugby Union-owned Dragons have the lowest playing budget of the four professional sides, although they do have one of their strongest squads for years and have added considerably to their backroom staff.

Chairman David Buttress is aiming to take the region back into private ownership but said last week the deal was in “a state of paralysis”.

That is because negotiations continue about how the WRU’s payment to the professional clubs will be split for the next three seasons with a resolution expected in mid-January.

There are also concerns across the quartet about the lack of a plan from the governing body, especially after the departure of Amanda Blanc as chair of the Professional Rugby Board and board of the Union.

South Wales Argus: FRUSTRATED: Dean Ryan of the DragonsFRUSTRATED: Dean Ryan of the Dragons

“We care a lot about this region and recognise that it’s a challenge,” said Ryan, who is also a director on the Dragons board.

“Part of that challenge needs to be people telling us how it’s going to go forward and what help we need, they can’t just leave us drowning.

“At the same time, those of us that are here have got to do as much as we can to do as well as we can.”

However, the Dragons are not producing the results that reflect the talent in their team, even without the injured Ross Moriarty, Ashton Hewitt, Gonzalo Bertranou and Rhodri Williams.

Performances have been poor since the return from the autumn internationals with defeats to Edinburgh and Glasgow in the URC and then in Perpignan.

The Dragons had the better of most of the game but failed to take their chances and saw a 9-0 lead disappear after a Perpignan purple patch.

South Wales Argus: The Dragons in PerpignanThe Dragons in Perpignan

“I am frustrated and disappointed. We look like a side that has lost some confidence over the last few weeks,” admitted Ryan.

“How many opportunities did we create in that first half? If you don’t take opportunities in France then you will see momentum build against you.

“We just looked like we were hanging in at the end because we didn’t know where to go, and that all comes back to the first half hour when we probably should have scored two or three times.

“That shows a side that has not been playing well and has been struggling a little bit. We didn’t get the reboot that we wanted in Perpignan.

“We had two yellow cards, we couldn’t get set piece. We’ve got to behave in the right way, which is as a collective because we went a little bit individual at the end.

“French momentum is an experience that you have to go through and there was no way back.

“I was expecting a reaction but that showed a side that is low in confidence. We will have to see where we are in terms of how we get through to the derbies with more personnel available to us.”