THE Dragons burgled the derby spoils for the second time in quick succession to stun the Ospreys in a remarkable finish at Rodney Parade.

It looked like the west Walians were going to prove Dean Ryan’s warning of a backlash to their 44-0 humbling at the Scarlets to be correct when they led 18-13 in the closing stages.

The Dragons had provided plenty of perspiration but not enough inspiration against their fired-up guests, yet it all changed in the last five minutes.

A strong scrum set the scene for young wing Rio Dyer, only included late in the day because of an injury to Ashton Hewitt, to cross for a try that his livewire performance deserved.

And then the Ospreys, hunting a first win since October, conceded a try that sums up their hapless season.

Luke Price tried a kick through that was charged down, Adam Warren hacked on from halfway, visiting full-back Cai Evans failed to gather and Tavis Knoyle hacked on again.

Replacement centre Warren won the race to the ball and somehow the Dragons had repeated their last-gasp triumph against the Scarlets.

It made it a festive period to cherish for Dragons supporters, whose side are showing tenacity and stickability.

They were creaking in the second half but stayed within a score to reap the rewards; luck was on their side and it has well and truly deserted the Ospreys.

The Dragons certainly weren't at their best but showed terrific character to take the spoils and give them a real shot at finishing the season ahead of their rivals from the Liberty Stadium.

South Wales Argus:

The Dragons suffered a double blow before the pre-match preparations started with the influential pair of Cory Hill and Ashton Hewitt dropping out.

The Wales lock was sent home from the ground because of illness while the winger, a member of the international squad for November’s fixture against the Barbarians, had a calf niggle.

Forward Matthew Screech was a seasoned deputy but Ryan was down to the bare bones out wide and brought Dyer into the XV.

The Wales Sevens international made his first regional appearance since March, 2018 and formed an inexperienced back three with Will Talbot-Davies and Jared Rosser, a trio that had a combined tally of just 70 Dragons outings.

The Ospreys, meanwhile, had been boosted by the return of Wales and Lions wing George North who eclipsed that figure for appearances on the international stage, with 94 caps.

However, that lack of experience didn’t show down the left with Dyer having a fine return to the fold, running hard and with serious pace, flinging himself into absolutely everything.

South Wales Argus:

The start would be key given the Liberty Stadium side’s humbling in Llanelli and Dragons defence coach Simon Cross would have been encouraged by the way that his team marched the visitors back in the opening exchanges.

That should have been rewarded through the left boot of Sam Davies but the fly-half, who swapped Swansea for Newport last summer, struck the right post with a routine penalty in the eighth minute.

The Dragons had failed to add to the Ospreys’ doubts after their Scarlets struggles, wasting trips to the visitors’ 22.

They were made to pay when a breakout ended with North crossing from Scott Williams’ dainty cross-kick after a timely turnover.

Luke Price was wide with the conversion but then responded to a Davies penalty with a three-pointer of his own to make it 8-3 to the Ospreys after 26 minutes.

But the Dragons had their noses in front after 34 minutes thanks to a sumptuous score by Wales tighthead Leon Brown.

He received an inside ball from hooker Elliot Dee and showed terrific pace – for any player, let alone a prop – to race over from 30 metres.

The pass looked forward but the TMO, Ireland’s Brian MacNeice, allowed the score to stand and Davies added the extras for a 10-8 lead.

They held that two-point advantage at the break, helped by the Ospreys’ bizarre decision to go for the corner with a kickable penalty in the 40th minute, a call that backfired when the drive was stopped and a forward pass from an inside ball denied North.

Davies extended the lead to 13-8 soon after the resumption only for an infuriating penalty from the restart to allow Price to respond.

And the away fly-half soon had an easy two points after he converted a try by centre Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, who exploited an overlap out wide to jink under the posts.

The Dragons were rocking, and were hit by another injury in the back three when Talbot-Davies suffered an elbow blow that led to fly-half Jacob Botica filling in at 15.

Ospreys number eight Morgan Morris was held up over the line as the pressure continued but Ryan’s men kept it to within a score as the game entered the final quarter.

However, they were putting precious little pressure on their guests in dangerous areas with the game largely played in the middle third as the clock ticked down.

But that all changed at the death with a penalty allowing the Dragons to move into the 22, where the scrum earned penalty advantage.

The impressive Ross Moriarty carried hard and then the ball was shifted for Davies to find Dyer with a cross-kick, the young winger finishing impressively.

The conversion was wide and the Ospreys looked to regain the lead, only to lose a draw.

Price’s ill-advised kick through was charged down, replacement centre Adam Warren hacked on after being impeded, full-back Cai Evans failed to gather and Tavis Knoyle kicked on.

Warren won the race to the ball, and the Dragons won a second home derby on the spin to increase their lead over the Ospreys at the bottom of Conference A.

Dragons: W Talbot-Davies (J Botica 50), J Rosser, T Morgan (A Warren 61), T Griffiths, R Dyer, S Davies, R Williams (captain, T Knoyle 72), B Harris, E Dee (R Hibbard 59), L Brown (A Jarvis 59), J Davies, M Screech, A Wainwright (H Keddie 59), T Basham, R Moriarty.

Scorers: tries – L Brown, R Dyer, A Warren; conversions – S Davies (2); penalties – S Davies (2)

Ospreys: C Evans, G North, T Thomas-Wheeler, S Williams, L Morgan, L Price, A Davies, N Smith, S Parry, M Fia, A Beard, B Davies, O Cracknell, J Tipuric (captain), M Morris. Replacements: S Otten, D Marfo, S Gardiner, D Lydiate, S Cross, S Venter, M McKenzie, H Dirksen.

Scorers: tries – G North, T Thomas-Wheeler; conversion – L Price; penalties – L Price (2)

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)

Argus star man: Ross Moriarty