BOSS Dean Ryan admits the Dragons' hammering at the hands of Bristol gave a taste of the daunting task that awaits them in the European Champions Cup next season.

The Rodney Parade region were beaten 56-17 by the seven-try Bears in Friday's Challenge Cup quarter-final at Ashton Gate.

The Dragons made a strong start to lead 10-0 thanks to a try by Ashton Hewitt and five points from the boot of Sam Davies.


However, Bristol put their foot down with three quickfire tries to lead 24-10 at half-time and stretched further away from sensational centre Semi Radradra early in the second half.

A trio of late tries turned a beating into a hammering with Ryan acknowledging the need for more resilience and composure under pressure.

South Wales Argus:

The Dragons will be in Europe's elite competition for the first time since 2011 in the coming campaign and the director of rugby wants to see progress when they face more big guns.

"You want to play in the Champions Cup and against some of the best players in the world, and they can do things like that," said Ryan.

"The Semi Radradra moments are worth applauding but it's what that does to us – we lose accuracy and focus. It's those moments where we've got to challenge ourselves to stay in games.

"You can't learn from talking about it. The pace and physicality of the game is a new experience for us.

"(At the start of the game) we were physical, we were off the line and caused them problems… but they are not problems that you can cause for 20 minutes.

South Wales Argus:

"You have to do it for 60, 70 minutes to stay in the contest and we had lapses where we allowed the bursts to happen, and very quickly they are away from you.

"We've come to a quarter-final against one of the biggest strike powers in England in terms of scoring potential and it was probably a little bit too far for us.

"But we want to be here and loved being here, now the challenge is getting better while we are here.

"Our big learning curve is around the middle part of the game when they had a scoring burst after we had controlled the first 20 minutes.

"They get a burst, which they are always capable of with the quality they have, and I think we just lost accuracy.

"We had control but it derailed us and that's where we've got to challenge ourselves to be better against sides as good as this."

The defeat brings an end to the Dragons' encouraging first campaign under Ryan with the new season getting under way in just a fortnight with a PRO14 opener at Leinster set to be confirmed soon.

The director of rugby is confident of enjoying more progress in 2020/21 after signing Nick Tompkins, Jonah Holmes, Jamie Roberts, Joe Maksymiw and Greg Bateman.

South Wales Argus:

"We are happy that the steps we have taken," he said. "We have got a lot more selection headaches and a lot more depth.

"Some of our youngsters are coming through and that progress is crucial.

"We have got a couple of other guys - Greg Bateman is to come in - and some real options that last year we didn't have when we were sometimes down to the bare bones.

"We would hope to be more consistently strong this year."