THE Dragons suffered a 37-25 defeat to Benetton in the Guinness PRO14 last night. Here are the talking points from the fixture at Rodney Parade…


The Dragons lost in Newport for the first time since November… when they were also without Sam Davies.

READ MORE: Dragons 25 Benetton 37

The fly-half will be part of the Wales travelling party for the Six Nations clash against England and his absence led to a chance for Jacob Botica.

South Wales Argus:

He started for the first time at 10 since heading for the Dragons from RGC in the summer of 2018 but failed to grasp his opportunity. It will be a surprise if another contract is on its way.

Arwel Robson, who came off the bench after returning from a loan spell at Jersey, was a player of promise but has been hindered by injury and has fallen down the pecking order.

The lack of a back-up that boss Dean Ryan trusts is clear and Josh Lewis’ stock has actually risen in a season where he hasn’t played because of ruptured knee ligaments.

If Jordan Williams was fit then the full-back could well be slotting in as a makeshift fly-half and the Dragons’ plight was highlighted by the opposition.

While they lacked direction – and that shouldn’t be entirely on the fly-half – Benetton were marshalled superbly by Ian Keatley.

READ MORE: Dragons can't be reliant on Davies - boss Ryan

The Dragons need Davies fit and firing for the run-in, and especially the Euro quarter-final at Bristol, but they also need Lewis battling for the 10 jersey.


Premier Sports put out a pre-match Tweet in which Dragons captain Rhodri Williams was asked about a late push for the play-offs.

Director of rugby Ryan would explode at such an idea; the boss has kept feet on the ground since heading for Rodney Parade.

This was a disappointing result but it has still been an encouragingly solid campaign in which the Dragons have dug out some wins, ended their league away hoodoo and qualified for knockout rugby.

Technically they are still in with a shout of Champions Cup qualification but that would be a disaster and way too much, way too soon.

The Ospreys have shown that there’s little fun to be had for underpowered regions when mixing it with the big boys in Europe.

However, with tough trips to come against Ulster and the Scarlets, the likelihood is that the Dragons will return to a battle to stay ahead of Zebre and the Ospreys in Conference A.

The returning Wales contingent will help that.

South Wales Argus:


Josh Reynolds was only starting because of injuries to Brok Harris, Aaron Jarvis and Ryan Bevington but took his chance.

The 21-year-old, who is another bright prospect from Newport High School Old Boys, scrummaged well and provided the champagne moment of the game.

Reynolds showed that Leon Brown isn’t the only Dragons prop with a neat turn of pace, hitting the line superbly from Matthew Screech’s neat pass before going on a 40-metre rampage.

There was a hint of a sidestep before the loosehead produced a lovely offload to put Rhodri Williams over.

That was a sublime moment yet it was the nuts and bolts of his game that would have pleased Ryan and forwards coach Ceri Jones.

“Josh was outstanding and sometimes we can’t miss those things that are going on just because another area of the team is not working very well,” said the director of rugby.

“Aaron Jarvis is not available at the moment and we had a lad come in, (on trial Irish prop) Conor Maguire, who has basically put his hand up to see if he can get a shift. That’s where we are because we have got no money.”

Reynolds' performance was hugely encouraging, while Chris Coleman is a promising prospect on the other side of the scrum.


Dragons defence coach Simon Cross would have lived up to his surname after the game after a sloppy performance.

The PRO14 stats had the region down as missing 25 tackles and having a success rate of 83 per cent.

Ryan suggested post-match that the figure would be their highest of the season. That wasn’t quite the case because in Glasgow they missed 37, albeit the success rate was 85 per cent.

However, the boss’ point was valid – they were off the money in defence and lacked the energy, snap and accuracy that helped them build a five-match winning streak on home soil.

Poor tackling allowed Benetton to set the tone at the start of the game and then repeat the trick at the start of the second half.

Tries by full-back Luca Sperandio and wing Angelo Esposito will make grim viewing at the Ystrad Mynach debrief.

The Dragons cannot be so leaky when they head to Ravenill next round.