DEAN Ryan has got plenty right since taking the reins at Rodney Parade but the Dragons boss didn't really read the room after the New Year's Day loss to the Scarlets.

It was a shocking game in Llanelli, a town where the Dragons have not won since the 2007 triumph at Stradey Park.

There haven't been many better opportunities to beat the club that have been Wales' standard-bearers in recent seasons yet it was a 20-3 home win.

Surprisingly, it wasn't followed by a rare post-match rocket from Ryan.

"I said in the changing rooms afterwards that this is one of those weeks when I am really proud to be involved in this set-up and be a Dragon," he said.

"I can't allow our lives to go on win and loss. We don't have the resources that the Scarlets have, that showed when their bench wheels off and we are throwing on youngsters.

"I'm proud about how those youngsters are getting better, proud that they can hold themselves in games like this."

It's a script that has been used by Darren Edwards, Lyn Jones, Kingsley Jones and Bernard Jackman but on this occasion it just wasn't appropriate.

"We don't have the resources that the Scarlets have," – fair comment.

"That showed when their bench wheels off and we are throwing on youngsters," – simply not true.

South Wales Argus: VETERAN: Dragons hooker Richard HibbardVETERAN: Dragons hooker Richard Hibbard

After 61 minutes the Dragons brought on 27-year-old captain Rhodri Williams, 37-year-old former Lions hooker Richard Hibbard and 34-year-old ex-Wales prop Aaron Jarvis.

Lloyd Fairbrother and Joe Davies, two players who are well established in professional rugby, were also replacements.

The Dragons had three novices in the matchday squad – lock Ben Carter, centre Aneurin Owen and unused fly-half Evan Lloyd – but this was a game that highlighted the problem that Ryan needs to address in this odd recruitment drive taking place amid a pandemic.

Glance at the roster and the wishlist would feature an outside centre for when Nick Tompkins returns to Saracens, a lively scrum-half to put the heat on Rhodri Williams and a lock (set to be addressed with the arrival of Will Rowlands).
But the age profile of the front row, always a tough area to strengthen, will be causing concern. Fielding Harris, Hibbard and Jarvis together would be rugby's equivalent to 'Last of the Summer Wine'.
At hooker there is a decision to be made for the third man to go along with Wales international Elliot Dee and Ellis Shipp.

Hibbard got a three-year deal when he signed from Gloucester but, unsurprisingly at 37, he hasn't hit the standards of the first two campaigns.

Brok Harris is a Dragons legend at loosehead but the South African is shouldering a huge burden on 35-year-old (soon to be 36-year-old) shoulders. He has featured in all 11 games this season, 10 of them starts because of 31-year-old Greg Bateman's hamstring injury.

At tighthead the Dragons have Wales international Leon Brown backed up by Jarvis and 29-year-old Fairbrother.

The Dragons have a propping headache with youngsters Josh Reynolds, Harry Fry, Chris Coleman and Luke Yendle hindered by inactivity due to coronavirus when they could do with learning their trade at A team or English Championship level.

They have some promising prospect, are stacked with veterans but lacking quality props in their late 20s.

That has to be a major target for Ryan and his recruitment team, with quality additions from overseas desirable.

Rowlands will be a superb signing but he is not a silver bullet in the tight five – the Dragons need to ensure they have strong deputies and the ability to rotate.

Lyn Jones' 2014 signing of Harris, fresh from Currie Cup glory, is up there with the best bits of business done at Rodney Parade.

Ryan could do with repeating that at least a couple of times up front if the Dragons are to push on in 2021/22.