DRAGONS boss Dean Ryan believes the intensity of the Guinness PRO14 derbies makes them perfect preparation for the mouth-watering European quarter-final at Bristol.

The Rodney Parade region are back in training ahead of two Welsh fixtures to finish the 2019/20 campaign.

They head to the Ospreys on August 22 before entertaining the Scarlets the following weekend with both games set to be played behind closed doors.

The Dragons then play their postponed European Challenge Cup quarter-final against the Bears on the weekend of September 18, with the winners taking on either Bordeaux-Begles or Edinburgh for the right to play in the final on October 16.

Bristol will head into the fixture battle-hardened by their push for the Gallagher Premiership play-offs, with English clubs returning to close contact training on Monday and back in action on the weekend of August 14.

The Dragons are playing catch-up but will have the benefit of their return to the field being fuelled by the desire to secure Welsh bragging rights.

South Wales Argus:

"The derbies are important to close off the PRO14 – especially for the clubs at the top of it as they'll have done a lot of work to get to that point," said director of rugby Ryan, whose team beat both the Scarlets and Ospreys in Newport over the festive period.

"It would be impossible for us to go into a European quarter-final without some sort of competitive action.

"To have the derbies means the intensity will be through the roof. There is no danger of the games being slow starters.

"We also recognise there is an interesting recruitment drive at Bristol so there will be some names on the team sheet we haven't seen before. It will be a big challenge and the PRO14 games will be good preparation."

The Bears have snapped up Lions tighthead Kyle Sinckler from Harlequins and Fijian ace Semi Radradra, who gave Wales a torrid time in the World Cup, along with Saracens duo Max Malins and Ben Earl.

The Dragons have seen Wales internationals Cory Hill and Tyler Morgan leave for Cardiff Blues and the Scarlets respectively but have confirmed a trio of new recruits.

South Wales Argus:

Six Nations star Nick Tompkins has signed to boost the midfield and Wales speedster Jonah Holmes will slot into the back three while 6ft 8ins lock Joe Maksymiw arrives from Connacht.

The Dragons are working on the assumption that all teams in the knockout stages of Europe will be allowed to pick from their 2020/21 squads.

That would mean Tompkins featuring in a last-eight tie in the second tier competition rather than helping Saracens, who have been relegated to the English Championship because of salary cap breaches, defend their Champions Cup crown.

When asked if that was tough to give up for a year-long loan at the Dragons, he said: "In a sense it was, I suppose it is a shame.

"But, at the same time, I am a Dragons player now. This is my whole focus. We've got a Challenge Cup quarter-final against Bristol ourselves. That's something to really look forward to."