THE Dragons missed a golden opportunity for a first win on Ospreys soil since 2010 but Ashton Hewitt’s late try ensured they won’t finish as Wales’ worst after the spoils were shared.

The return to action in the Guinness PRO14 looked likely to be a frustrating one for the men from Rodney Parade.

Despite George North’s early red card for taking out fellow wing Hewitt in the air, they spluttered and made too many errors, with rustiness a valid excuse after six months on the sidelines.

They trailed at the death but then an overthrown Ospreys lineout in the 79th minute allowed them to have one last attack and Hewitt was put over down the left.

Captain and fly-half Sam Davies had the chance to win it from the touchline but pushed his effort from the tee, meaning the spoils were shared.

South Wales Argus:

That meant there were no celebrations in home or away changing rooms but it did mean the Dragons can no longer be overtaken by the Ospreys in Conference A.

A small accomplishment but one to be cherished – it’s the first time since 2015 and only the fifth time they have avoided propping up the Welsh pile in 17 seasons.

It now allows the Dragons to build towards the European quarter-final against Bristol and the 2020/21 campaign without big pressure when they welcome the Scarlets to Rodney Parade on Saturday.

Had they needed to get something from a game against Wales’ best side then it would have been a nervy occasion; now it can be a stepping stone.

There is plenty to work on in Ystrad Mynach this week after an understandably rusty display with the lineout misfiring, plenty of balls hitting the deck and a glut of chances being blown.

Had the Ospreys had 15 men then it could have been a tough afternoon, instead it was an even one when the first half entertained and the second frustrated.

The hosts started the slicker and were in front through the right boot of Stephen Myler in the third minute after a high tackle in front of the posts.

The experienced fly-half added a more impressive kick after seven minutes to make it 10-0 following the first try, North having the power to crash over down the right despite the efforts of Hewitt and Dafydd Howells.

It was looking likely to be a long afternoon but then came the minutes that changed the nature of the afternoon.

First Hewitt responded with a fine finish of his own, showing pace and power to go through the tackle of Olly Cracknell from centre Jack Dixon’s lovely offload.

Sam Davies converted and then North clattered Hewitt from the restart to see red. Referee Adam Jones was in charge of his first PRO14 game and was left with little option, and the official went on to have a good game.

South Wales Argus:

From a position of dominance, the Ospreys were faced with a similar task to the Dragons at Worcester when they battled from Taine Basham’s dismissal for a losing bonus point.

Suddenly all the attacking was from those in blue and approaching the half hour a second cracker was scored.

Tighthead Leon Brown, who had raced over from 40 metres in the January win against the Ospreys, cut a lovely line to take a short ball from a ruck, go through Alun Wyn Jones’ tackle and then power through last-man Dan Evans.

The lead was short-lived, Davies missed the conversion and then Myler slotted a penalty for 13-12.

After six months of inactivity, some of the defence left a little to be desired and the Ospreys were over for their second in the 38th minute when former Dragons hooker Sam Parry was put over by the impressive young centre Kieran Williams.

The TMO had a look at the build-up but it was just a case of Dragons flanker Taine Basham picking the wrong man to tackle rather than blocking.

Myler converted to make it 20-12 only for Davies to respond with a penalty to cut the gap to five points at the break.

South Wales Argus:

The Ospreys started the second half on top and it took some scrambling to defence to deny Parry when Richard Hibbard overcooked his lineout throw five metres out.

The hosts had stripped things back a touch, feeling that they had the edge up front, but missed a chance to stretch a score clear when the usually reliable Myler pushed an effort from the tee wide approaching the hour.

It was scrappy stuff, rather summed up by Howells blowing a golden opportunity in the 72nd minute when he knocked on in the process of scoring after the Dragons had an overlap.

They went back for a penalty, kicked it to the corner and then knocked on in the 22 again.

The chances kept coming, the Dragons kept blowing them as the clocked ticked down. Thankfully they still had one more opportunity and Hewitt took it.

Ospreys: D Evans, G North, O Watkin, K Williams, L Morgan, S Myler, R Webb, N Smith, S Parry, T Botha, A Beard, AW Jones, O Cracknell, M Morris, J Tipuric (captain). Replacements: D Lake, G Thomas, N Thomas, B Davies, W Griffiths, R Morgan-Williams, J Thomas, T Thomas-Wheeler.

Scorers: tries – G North, S Parry; conversions – S Myler 2; penalties – S Myler 2,

Dragons: D Howells, O Jenkins, N Tompkins, J Dixon, A Hewitt, S Davies (captain), T Knoyle, B Harris, R Hibbard, L Brown, M Screech, J Maksymiw, B Fry, T Basham, R Moriarty. Replacements: E Shipp, C Maguire, C Coleman, J Davies, A Wainwright, L Baldwin, A Robson, A Warren.

Scorers: tries – A Hewitt (2), L Brown; conversion – S Davies; penalty – S Davies

Referee: Adam Jones (WRU)