THE Dragons suffered a 16-12 defeat to Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park yesterday. Here are the talking points from the Guinness PRO14 clash…


The Dragons have generally been tenacious in derbies over the past two campaigns with last season's losses to the Blues being by eight points at Rodney Parade and three in Cardiff, when Gareth Anscombe won it with the last kick.

The four-year hoodoo was ended against the Ospreys in Newport but there were then disappointing losses out west in Llanelli and Swansea before the fantastic Judgement Day finale.

Keeping things tight helped them upset the odds at the death versus the Scarlets and it gave them a chance at the Arms Park.

READ MORE: Match report from the capital

At 17-9 last week the Dragons had to show their fight and the same was the case when the Blues led 10-0 in the first half.

Their tenacity, organisation and composure is giving them a chance, and hopefully in their first game of 2020 it can lead to another derby win….

South Wales Argus:


The Dragons have shown fight but were left to rue the lack of a cutting edge in Cardiff.

They started brightly but failed to convert pressure into points in the 22, while the final official PRO14 stats were in their favour with 60 per cent territory and 58 per cent possession.

The Dragons outscored the Blues by two tries to one but they will feel that other openings went begging because of little inaccuracies in the ‘red zone’.

They lacked a bit of creativity and seemed to get bogged down after their starter plays.

However, it must be said that the home defence was excellent with the back row and centres Ben Thomas and Rey Lee-Lo prominent.


Taine Basham has had an excellent start to the season, one that led to a call-up to the Wales squad for the November international against the Barbarians.

The flanker is a player who produces big moments, whether a big collision or dynamic carry.

He crossed for his eighth try of the season yesterday and it was his interception that led to Matthew Screech’s score.

The 20-year-old from Talywain isn’t the biggest back rower but put himself about against strong opposition in Shane Lewis-Hughes, Olly Robinson and the excellent Josh Navidi.

Basham has already put in some strong performances this season but doing it in a big derby against the Dragons’ nearest rivals bodes especially well for the future.

South Wales Argus:


This is a talking point that is getting repetitive – the Dragons scrum has been going impressively for weeks.

They stood firm against Worcester at Sixways when it was a seven-man pack, were on top against the Warriors the following week and then outperformed the Scarlets’ all-Wales front row of Wyn Jones, Ken Owens and Samson Lee.

Director of rugby Dean Ryan tinkered with the line-up for Cardiff, bringing in Richard Hibbard and Aaron Jarvis and using Elliot Dee and Leon Brown as impact subs.

Brok Harris, still going more than strong at 34 years old, once again started and once again finished.

Forwards coach Ceri Jones takes great credit from the way that the scrum has performed, although Ryan was right that it didn’t really get the deserved rewards in penalties.


The Dragons headed into the first two festive derbies as underdogs despite the improvement shown in the first half of the campaign.

The same won’t apply a week on Saturday.

They entertain an Ospreys side in disarray after being beaten 44-0 by the Scarlets in Llanelli, shipping six tries in humiliating hammering.

They have lost 10 games on the spin since beating Benetton in October and prop up Conference A, six points back on the Dragons.

Head coach Allen Clarke has gone and Mike Ruddock hasn’t been able to perform miracles since joining as a consultant.

They are in turmoil on and off the pitch, which heaps the pressure on the Dragons, who are prospering under the steady stewardship of Dean Ryan.

If they can add to the Ospreys’ woe then it will have been a superb festive period – but beware the likely return of Alun Wyn Jones and George North.