THE Dragons have been given a Friday night date with Bristol in the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup.

Dean Ryan’s men will travel to Ashton Gate for the encounter in the last eight on September 18 (kick-off 7.45pm).

They were originally meant to head over the Severn Bridge on Sunday, April 5 but the knockout stages have been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, which has also led to the finals of the Challenge Cup and Champions Cup being moved from Marseille.

If the Dragons upset the odds against the Bears then they will face the winners of the Bordeaux-Begles versus Edinburgh clash the following weekend.

There is no decision about whether supporters will be allowed in for the clash but Bristol chief executive Mark Tainton gave Bears fans an update about their Premiership fixtures last week.

"Protocols around Covid-19 are a fast-changing situation, so we await clarity about when we will be able to host a number of supporters at home fixtures in a safe and responsible manner," he said.

"We are ready to welcome fans back as soon as government guidance deems it is safe to do so.

“The team at Ashton Gate has been tremendous and the club are liaising with internal and external stakeholders on a daily basis.

"It would be a significant boost if supporters were able to come to Ashton Gate and enjoy the team in action, but we must wait a little longer to find out if that’s possible.

"The safety and well-being of our community is the highest priority, so we continue to work closely with local authorities and Premiership Rugby.

“Thank you for your backing and we can’t wait to be out on the field doing the city proud once again.”

The Rodney Parade region earned a place in the quarters by edging out Worcester to finish behind Castres in Pool One and be one of the best runners-up in the second tier competition.

They will protect a 100 per cent record in the last eight when they head to the West Country after previous wins against Brive, Cardiff Blues and Gloucester.

However, they have never won a semi-final after defeats to Clermont Auvergne, Edinburgh and Montpellier.

South Wales Argus:

Ryan’s squad will tune up for the quarter-final with derby fixtures against the Ospreys in Swansea and Scarlets in Newport on August 22 and 29 to finish the 2019/20 Guinness PRO14.

Bristol, meanwhile, will have to utilise their squad wisely in a manic finale to the Gallagher Premiership, which will feature midweek games to cram in nine rounds.

The mouth-watering quarter-final will see both teams playing with their 2020/21 squads.

That means the Dragons will be boosted by the presence of international backs Nick Tompkins and Jonah Holmes as well as lock Joe Maksymiw but they have seen Wales second rower Cory Hill and centre Tyler Morgan head to Cardiff Blues and the Scarlets respectively.

Bristol have boosted their ranks with a number of signings headed by British and Irish Lions tighthead Kyle Sinckler and elusive Fijian back Semi Radradra.

(All kick-offs local time)

Friday 18 September
QF 4: Bristol Bears v Dragons, Ashton Gate Stadium (19.45) BT Sport / beIN SPORTS

Saturday 19 September
QF 3: Bordeaux-Bègles v Edinburgh Rugby, Stade Chaban-Delmas (13.30) beIN SPORTS / BT Sport
QF 1: RC Toulon v Scarlets, Stade Félix Mayol (21.00); France 4 / beIN SPORTS / BT Sport / S4C

Sunday 20 September
QF 2: Leicester Tigers v Castres Olympique, Welford Road (15.00) BT Sport / beIN SPORTS

Semi-final 1 – winner of QF 1: RC Toulon v Scarlets will play the winner of QF 2: Leicester Tigers v Castres Olympique
Semi-final 2 – winner of QF 3: Bordeaux-Bègles v Edinburgh Rugby will play the winner of QF 4: Bristol Bears v Dragons
(Matches to be played on 25/26/27 September)

2020 Challenge Cup final: weekend 16/17/18 October (venue TBC)