THE Dragons returned to action with a dramatic draw against the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium. Here are the talking points from the Guinness PRO14 derby…


It was odd, very odd, but just good to have rugby back.

The decision to finish the 2019/20 Guinness PRO14 has created a bizarre situation where teams have different motivations despite league points being up for grabs.

For the Dragons and Scarlets it is about building towards the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals in mid-September but the Ospreys and Cardiff Blues the target is the first weekend of October when the new PRO14 season is scheduled to start.

South Wales Argus: RETURN: Ross Moriarty and the Dragons were back in actionRETURN: Ross Moriarty and the Dragons were back in action

It was a frustrating performance from the Dragons against the 14-man Ospreys - arguably George North's dismissal made a game of it - with far too many handling errors and sloppy mistakes but we shouldn’t judge too harshly.

If this was a game against Ealing or Nottingham then we’d be quick to excuse the errors because of rustiness, so the same should apply here.

Added to that is the continuing coronavirus situation that is still impacting training and meant that teams were not able to do what they often would by heading to another club for a contested training hit-out.

“If this was a pre-season game, I would be talking really positively and I’m not going to lose that just because it’s a local derby,” said director of rugby Dean Ryan afterwards.

“I am pretty pleased with some of the performances –some of the young guys had never played at that intensity against the likes of Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric.”


South Wales Argus:


On 50 minutes Ospreys boss Toby Booth brought on three front row forwards despite the starters all going well.

The Dragons, meanwhile, left evergreen loosehead Brok Harris on until the 69th minute while Wales tighthead Leon Brown was on until the 78th minute.

On-trial Irish prop Conor Maguire (pictured above) did pretty well after coming on while it was a little harsh for Chris Coleman to only be given two minutes.

It served to highlight the Dragons’ front row resources with Aaron Jarvis, Lloyd Fairbrother and Josh Reynolds unused at the Liberty Stadium.

Ryan Bevington, still nursing a knee issue, continues to negotiate about a new deal and Greg Bateman is likely to arrive for 2020/21 following his exit from Leicester over a pay dispute.

Numbers will be needed ahead of what is going to be a long, testing season and the same applies at hooker given the likely absence of Wales Elliot Dee for large chunks of the season.

That will leave Ryan down to two senior options – 36-year-old Richard Hibbard and bright prospect Ellis Shipp.

Luck will also be needed at lock where it’s Matthew Screech, Joe Maksymiw, Joe Davies, Max Williams and teenager Ben Carter.

South Wales Argus:


The ESPN stats suggest it wasn’t bad for the Dragons – 23 wins from 27 – but that tally feels wrong. The lineout faltered and possession was often scrappy.

A botched lineout almost presented the Ospreys with a cheap try at the start of the second half and it then spluttered in the home side’s 22 as the Dragons hunted the lead in the closing stages.

But it was pre-season and drills in Ystrad Mynach are nothing like the real thing against opposition of the quality of Alun Wyn Jones and Adam Beard.

There was a new man in the mix in lock Joe Maksymiw and it must be remember that the coronavirus pandemic has thrown a spanner in the works, with players unable to work too much in big units until recently.

New forwards coach Mefin Davies will demand better in both the scrum and lineout against the Scarlets, who boast a formidable pack to go along with their classy back line.

South Wales Argus: LIVELY: Luke Baldwin on the charge for the DragonsLIVELY: Luke Baldwin on the charge for the Dragons


Dean Ryan will tinker with his team for the Scarlets on Saturday, so plenty of players knew it was their chance to shine ahead of the selection decision for the European Challenge Cup quarter-final against Bristol.

Some grasped their shot with Jack Dixon having a strong performance that makes you think it might be a bigger risk to fling Jamie Roberts in cold against the Bears.

Ben Fry might be worth another crack against the Scarlets, although it would be a shock if it’s not a Aaron Wainwright, Taine Basham, Ross Moriarty combination at Ashton Gate.

One of the big winners was Luke Baldwin, an energetic character off the field who played with enthusiasm on it as a replacement.

Arguably the impact role suits the livewire Englishman, who could nip ahead of Tavis Knoyle as the back-up to Rhodri Williams.