PROP Chris Coleman was singled out for praise by boss Dean Ryan after the Dragons suffered another defeat in a deflating season.

The Rodney Parade side's hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of the European Challenge Cup are hanging by a thread after a loss to Benetton.

They lost a low-quality game in Treviso after seeing a 9-8 half-time lead turn into a 23-9 defeat at the Stadio di Monigo with Ira Herbst, Edoardo Padovani and Tomas Baravalle going over for the hosts.

The Dragons have won just one of 10 games this season and the pressure will be on when they return to URC action against Benetton in Newport a week on Friday.

But amid the disappointment, director of rugby Ryan pointed to an encouraging display from tighthead Coleman against a side who relish the set piece.

The 23-year-old from Garndiffaith is third in the pecking order behind international duo Leon Brown, who was his back up in Italy while continuing his comeback from injury, and Mesake Doge.

Coleman made his debut four years ago and has racked up 20 appearances, predominantly off the bench to put him in a position to hold his own with 3 on his back.


Dragons and Benetton scrummage as Gonzalo Bertranou looks on

Dragons and Benetton scrummage as Gonzalo Bertranou looks on


"I thought Chris Coleman was outstanding. We have always got to remember some of our youngsters," said Ryan.

"Aneurin [Owen, centre] again was right at the fore of our game and Ioan [Davies, full-back] hasn't played for a huge amount of time, for Ioan to come into that situation was credit to him.

"We always have to keep an eye on some of our youngsters and the spotlight should be on Chris Coleman because I thought he was outstanding at tighthead."

Coleman could reflect on an encouraging performance but as a unit it was poor from the Dragons in a low-quality game.

"I don't think we controlled the ball, either side of it, and at the breakdown the killed any momentum," said Ryan, whose side hadn't played since December 17 because of Covid postponements.

"We couldn't deal with the high ball and couldn't hold on to it for long enough to get into a game that brings the like of Taine Basham and Aaron Wainwright to the fore.

"Unless we solve those issues, we can't impose a game that we are seeking to do. We have got to get better at controlling instances when we are in possession so we can get to a game we want to play.

"But we also need to be able to diffuse a game that's coming at us in the air, and we weren't able to do that."

South Wales Argus: Ioan Davies is snared by BenettonIoan Davies is snared by Benetton

Asked on S4C if the Dragons were stuck in a rut of losing, Ryan replied: "I am not really looking at markers, I want [good] performances and they will build to results.

"At the moment there have been some times when we have clearly not been competitive and times when we have. I don't think we were competitive long enough at Benetton to warrant any sort of result."

The Dragons now prop up Pool B with a solitary losing bonus point from three games and their hopes of sneaking into the last 16 could be killed off next weekend, when they sit out the action before an April fixture against Gloucester in Newport.

With Benetton and Perpignan still to meet, Ryan's men are playing for fourth place and would need a higher points tally than their counterparts in Pools A and C.

That is highly unlikely and will be impossible if Worcester win at winless Zebre on Saturday.

The Dragons could mathematically still finish third on points difference but it would need a bonus point win against Gloucester in their finale and for Benetton and Perpignan to draw in April after failing to get anything this coming weekend.