THE Dragons endured a 49-7 hammering at the hands of Clermont Auvergne at Rodney Parade. Here are the talking points from the European Challenge Cup clash...

Money talks

At just after 11am on Thursday it became clear that it was likely to be a long evening for the Dragons.

Clermont have the ability to make changes and still field a formidable side featuring power, class and caps.

The Dragons could have done with the pre-match downpour continuing to try and curb the attacking ability of an incredible set of three-quarters (England's Nick Abendanon, Australia's Peter Betham and France's Remy Grosso and a midfield of All Black George Moala and Fijian Apisai Naqalevu).

But even if the ball was greasy then the hefty Clermont pack featuring France internationals Benjamin Kayser, Paul Jedrasiak and Damien Chouly plus Springboks lock Flip van der Merwe and mightily impressive prop Sipili Falatea would have found a way to inflict damage another way.

First setback for Jones

Ceri Jones had experienced nothing but pride in his five games since succeeding Bernard Jackman. Now he is faced by heading up the repair job.

READ MORE: Gulf in budget no excuse for Dragons' display in Clermont hammering, says Jones

There is no shame in losing to Clermont but the manner of defeat contrasted starkly to the loss in France (Jones’ first game in charge), when they battled and were just 11 points down in the final quarter before their hosts struck with a pair of converted tries.

This contest was over in the first quarter through a mixture of French brilliance and Welsh sloppiness.

How the Dragons respond will be key to Jones' hopes of landing the top job.

South Wales Argus:

Costly errors

Clermont are class but the Dragons didn’t help themselves.

Jason Tovey’s kick-off didn’t go 10 metres and that set the tone for a poor start.

The Top 14 leaders had potent attackers but the Dragons’ defence, which had made strides in the festive derbies, was poor with missed tackles and gaps galore.

The line out was another issue in the absence of Cory Hill and Lewis Evans and with a young back row of Harri Keddie, Aaron Wainwright and Ollie Griffiths that is impressive but needs to develop a jumping options.

The game had gone but too many visits to the 22 went unrewarded.

On the plus side the scrum went well after the return of props Brok Harris and Lloyd Fairbrother.

Reaction needed

Next up is a return to the PRO14 and a clash with Munster in Newport on Saturday.

It’s another tough challenge and Leinster showed in December that the absence of Ireland internationals at Rodney Parade doesn’t automatically mean home win.

Jones doesn’t have a glut of options to change it up from the Clermont clash but he needs a far more accurate performance.

One imagines that Josh Lewis will be back to pull the strings and maybe Ross Moriarty will be sent for game time to soften the blow of losing Wainwright.

But the majority of those from the Clermont XV will go again, and they need to up their game.

South Wales Argus:

Clermont fans keep it lively

Pre-match there was the contrast of the generic, bland music piped through the Tannoy and the jauntiness of the Clermont band.

The Top14 side brought more supporters than any other teams this season, Cardiff Blues and Ospreys apart.

They got the toes tapping and helped provide some atmosphere when the result was not in doubt.

Clermont make friends wherever they go and most at Rodney Parade will hope they go on to win a Top 14 and Challenge Cup double.