LEON Brown says the Dragons travel to Castres for a crunch European Challenge Cup clash at Castres buoyed by the belief they can edge tight tussles.

The Rodney Parade region head to France at the top of Pool One and on the cusp of making the quarter-finals, be it as group winners or one of the three best runners-up.

The face a stern challenge this weekend against a Castres side who haven't lost a home European fixture for four years but Dean Ryan's men are buoyed by a strong festive derby period.

They beat the Scarlets and Ospreys thanks to late scores either side of a narrow defeat at Cardiff Blues.

The Dragons had to dig deep in all three encounters with Brown believing they are more resilient thanks to an encouraging first half of the campaign under new boss Dean Ryan.

South Wales Argus:

"We ground out the win against the Ospreys and in years gone by I'm not sure we would have because we didn't play the best," said the Wales tighthead, who scored a stunning 30-metre try in the derby win.

"We were never used to winning before, we'd get in those 50/50 battles and think 'woah, what do we do here?'.

"Now a couple have gone our way and we know that we can do it. We have got confidence in ourselves and are just trying to play simple, fast rugby."

"Dean always says to not get carried away with ourselves, we are not going to be world beaters straight away," he continued. "It's just about being to stay in the fight."

The Dragons started the Challenge Cup with a 31-17 victory against Castres in Newport and wins against Enisei-STM in Russia and Worcester, the week after earning a crucial consolation bonus in the West Midlands, have put them in a strong position.

If they leave France with anything to show for their efforts then a Cardiff Blues loss in Cardiff would secure a place in the quarters.

However, the Dragons are eyeing top spot and don't want to rely on other results going their way.

South Wales Argus:

"I am sure they will be a different team to the one that we played at Rodney Parade, they are known to pick stronger sides at home, but we go out there with nothing to lose," said Brown.

"We'll play a bit of Union and see if we can get the result. We're top of the group and in the past years we have done alright in Europe."

Brown has enjoyed a superb first half of the season since suffering the disappointment of missing out on the World Cup.

His form earned an appearance for Wales against the Barbarians in November and the prop is likely to get a call-up for the Six Nations, and is arguably in pole position for the start against Italy.

"It was obviously disappointing that I didn't go but it probably worked out for the best. I had to break down what was going wrong in the scrums from the basics and started learning again," said the 23-year-old from Newport.

"I have never claimed to be a class scrummager or whatever but I will always work hard and try my best.

"I take each week as it comes, I know everyone says that but I genuinely do. I don't think ahead and if a Wales call happens then amazing, if not then I'll just keep working hard."