NEWPORT Gwent Dragons were condemned to a derby defeat by the Ospreys after a late comeback inspired by teenage debutant Angus O'Brien fell agonisingly short.

All looked lost when Wales scrum-half Rhys Webb's try made it 17-6 with half an hour left but the hosts came storming back to be within a whisker of an unlikely win.

Fly-half O'Brien kicked beautifully from the tee after being called from the bench because of an injury to Jason Tovey and was so close to being the toast of Rodney Parade only for his long-range drop goal to go to the left of the uprights.

Lyn Jones' men weren't beaten by Welsh rivals at Rodney Parade last season yet the Ospreys were worthy 17-15 winners in a rather scrappy derby.

The Dragons are clearly a work in progress, a new team taking time to settle in attack.

Yet the new boys up front stood tall with props Boris Stankovich and Lloyd Fairbrother putting in a fine shift either side of the impressive hooker Elliot Dee while lock Rynard Landman is not one to take a step back.

Just like in Connacht, the tight game was up to the task but the Dragons were hindered by a catalogue of errors that hindered their attacking game.

The Ospreys were much more accurate and much more composed, hence they looked more threatening and created more.

The visitors sprang a pre-match surprise when they included Wales and Lions lock Alun Wyn Jones, who was set to be rested after his summer exertions against the Springboks.

Such announcements prompt the raising of many eyebrows yet the Ospreys insisted it was a genuine late call-up because of Lloyd Peers' tight hamstring.

But the inclusion of Jones – a genuine titan of the sport – merely added the crackling atmosphere.

Wellies may be needed for the toilets, some views from the Hazell Stand may be obstructed by posts and two ends of the ground are uncovered but nowhere does derby action like Rodney Parade.

Mike Phillips and Dan Biggar had famously gone into meltdown in the past while star-studded line-ups from Swansea had come a cropper in eight of 10 previous visits to Newport.

The odds were tight ahead of kick-off this time with the Ospreys priced by the bookies as slight favourites despite seeing four Lions – Adam Jones, Ryan Jones, Richard Hibbard and Ian Evans – leave their pack in the summer.

The hope was that the Dragons could repeat their efforts from last season which had seen them get off to a flying start by sending Ulster and the Scarlets packing in engrossing encounters.

Yet it was the Ospreys that started more sharply and they forced their hosts into some desperate defence, prop Nicky Smith forcing them to scramble from a clean break through midfield and Hallam Amos having to race back to dot down over his line after Josh Matavesi's grubber through.

The hosts gradually grew into the game but, much like their Pro12 opener at Connacht, they were hindered by a high error count.

Yet the Dragons inched in front in the 15th minute when their scrum earned a shot at goal that Tovey nailed, Fairbrother receiving the acclaim of fans and players alike.

But the Cornishman was soon in the sin bin along with Ospreys loosehead Nicky Smith after referee Nigel Owens grew tired of farcical scenes at the set piece.

That seemed to enable the rugby to take centre stage and the Ospreys looked the more threatening with wing Eli Walker twice close to breaking through only to be denied by a Lee Byrne tap tackle and another desperate Dragons defensive effort down the left flank.

And the visitors moved into a 10-3 lead at the break thanks to a Biggar penalty after lock Ian Gough was pinged for some afters against his former side and a smart try by Walker.

The speedster won the race to Webb's neat chip over Byrne from a ruck and his fly-half expertly added the extras from the left touchline.

The Dragons were forced into a change at the break because Tovey – their only experienced 10 – suffered a calf injury and that led to a debut for the supremely talented Wales Under-20s international O'Brien.

Yet the 19-year-old, whose kicking with Cross Keys is sometimes shaky, showed no nerves when he slotted over a 45th-minute penalty won by the scrum.

However, the Ospreys were in total command with half an hour left when, after a botched lineout gifted the visitors possession, Rhys Webb was allowed to snipe over from a ruck.

Biggar converted before O'Brien banged over a penalty to make it 17-9 but the Dragons were kept at arm's length by the west Walians, prevented from further chipping away at the lead.

But the Dragons had a lifeline with nine minutes left when Walker was yellow-carded for taking Tyler Morgan out in the air, an offence that O'Brien superbly punished to make it 17-12.

And another beautiful strike by the young fly-half set up a thrilling finale.

Alas, O'Brien couldn't cap an encouraging debut with a drop goal winner, leaving them to settle for a second successive losing bonus point

Dragons: L Byrne (captain, T Prydie 65), H Amos, T Morgan, J Dixon, A Brew, J Tovey (A O'Brien 40), J Evans (R Rees 56), B Stankovich (O Evans 58), E Dee (R Thomas 63), L Fairbrother (D Way 58), I Gough (A Coombs 45), R Landman, L Evans (D Way 24-35, A Powell 50), N Cudd, T Faletau.

Scorers: penalties – J Tovey, A O'Brien (4)

Yellow card: L Fairbrother

Ospreys: D Evans, J Hassler (H Dirksen 62), A Bishop, J Matavesi, E Walker, D Biggar, R Webb (M Roberts 62), N Smith (D Jones 45), S Baldwin (S Parry 71), A Jarvis (D Suter 79), A W Jones (captain), R Bernardo, J Bearman (D Jones 24-35, T Ardron 71), J King, D Baker (M Allen 57).

Scorers: tries – E Walker, R Webb; conversions – D Biggar (2); penalty – D Biggar

Yellow cards: N Smith, E Walker

Referee: Nigel Owens

Attendance: 7,199

Argus star man: Lloyd Fairbrother