CAPTAIN Rhodri Williams is encouraged by the Dragons' battling spirit in their festive derbies – but has shrugged off the tag of favourites for their finale against the Ospreys, writes Chris Kirwan.

The Rodney Parade region won a tense tussle with the Scarlets by two points in Newport last weekend and were then edged out by four points at Cardiff Blues on Boxing Day.

Dean Ryan's men have shown tenacity and are no longer a soft touch against their regional rivals, but now they have the chance to turn an encouraging festive period into an excellent one.

They welcome the Ospreys to Rodney Parade next Saturday (kick-off 3pm) when they will be favourites against the men from Swansea, who have lost 12 of 13 fixtures this season and are fresh from a 44-0 drubbing at the hands of the Scarlets.

The Dragons are likely to face a backlash and the visitors are set to be bolstered by Wales stars Alun Wyn Jones and George North.

"If you look at their squad, they have quality players, so it's going to be another tough game and again another derby day," said Williams.

"I don't like to looking at who is favourites, it's another tough game and we have to get things right our end."

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The scrum-half just wants to keep making steps forward after their stubborn performance when edged out 16-12 at the Arms Park.

"It was a typical derby day, a one score game and they came off better off," said in-form Williams, who recently signed a two-year contract extension.

"It shows the progression we're making. Going 10-0 down early on, probably in the past we would have dropped off but it shows there's belief in the squad to come back into the game.

"To pull it back towards the end is a credit to the boys, we stuck in there and we did take it down to the final whistle."

Director of rugby Ryan's mantra all season has been to ignore the week-to-week ups and downs, instead concentrating on the long term. It's an approach that Williams is keen to share.

"It's about making progression. We've got to keep building and we don't want to load everything on one game," he said.

"There were positives to take from the loss to the Blues, so we can build on that and can learn from our mistakes as well to keep moving forward as a squad.

"We'll come in Monday, analyse, put the work in on the training field and hopefully get things right for Saturday."

The Ospreys were a rabble at Parc y Scarlets.

"It was definitely the worst night in an Ospreys shirt by far," said Justin Tipuric.

"You have got to show character and wear this shirt with more pride than we did."