THERE is to be no Triple Crown for the Dragons at Principality Stadium but they did inch a point closer to Glasgow in the race for fourth in Conference A of the Guinness PRO14.

Dean Ryan’s men rallied late in a 26-22 loss to Ulster in the first of three games down the road from Rodney Parade.

They left with something to show for their efforts after late tries by Rio Dyer and Jonah Holmes earned the consolation of a losing bonus point.

The Dragons were bullied in Belfast but coped better against Irish power, with all-action back rower Ollie Griffiths typically prominent on a try-scoring return from injury.

They ultimately paid the price for failing to be as cutthroat as Ulster, who had their bonus in the bag on the hour.

But the visitors were indisciplined and that opened the door for the battling Dragons to close the gap and make it a nervy finish for the second-placed Irish province, who cannot catch Leinster or be caught by the Ospreys.

It leaves Ryan’s men four points behind Glasgow in the battle for fourth spot and potential qualification for next season’s Champions Cup.

Had they not grabbed a consolation then they would have had no margin for error against the Warriors in Cardiff next Sunday.

Now they need to record a Scottish double with Edinburgh their final visitors at Principality Stadium, then it will be a case of waiting to see how many teams the PRO14 will provide to Europe’s top tier.

South Wales Argus:

The Dragons were forced into a pre-match change when Wales flanker Ross Moriarty dropped out through injury with his place going to Ben Fry.

That blow didn’t prevent them from making a rapid start to dominate possession and territory only to miss an opportunity to open the scoring when Sam Davies pushed a 40-metre penalty wide.

It was role reversal from the win against the Ospreys with the Dragons kicking penalties to the corner only to come up against a white wall.

They failed to strike and then Ulster did on 14 minutes, with the help of some dodgy defence.

Ireland speedster Jacob Stockdale, playing at full-back, went through the tackles of Aneurin Owen, wrong-footed Sam Davies and brushed off Josh Lewis.

Wing Rio Dyer downed him but Alby Mathewson was on hand to canter over from the offload for a try that Michael Lowry converted.

Ulster doubled their lead after 22 minutes when Harri Keddie stole a lineout on the 22 but Rhodri Williams was unable to gather.

The visitors went on the attack and Stuart McCloskey conjured an offload to put midfield partner Stewart Moore over, Lowry adding the extras.

At 14-0 down after 27 minutes the Dragons felt that they needed more than three points and turned down a shot at goal in favour of the corner only for two botched lineouts to lead to them being pushed back away from the line.

The message was loud and clear from the sideline after Ulster were penalised for a high tackle on the 22 – posts.

Sam Davies got the Dragons on the scoreboard and they finished the half on top, this time going for the corner after yet more Ulster indiscipline.

A strong drive was held up over the line and then they won a penalty from the resulting scrum to opt to return to the corner.

The pressure led to a yellow card for visiting hooker John Andrew but the Dragons were held up when once again going for seven, a costly failure with the clock in the red.

Ulster’s resilience despite their indiscipline – 11 first-half penalties – was admirable and it left the hosts with a 11-point gap to close in the second half.

It was soon 14 versus 14 after Harri Keddie was shown yellow for a cynical offence when the Irish side were five metres out, that after a stunning last-gasp tackle by wing Rio Dyer.

The Dragons needed to stay in the fight and did so when fit-again Ollie Griffiths ripped the ball away at the drive after Ulster had gone for the corner.

Yet there was no stopping Andrew when he returned to the field, hit his man from the lineout and then guided the drive over the line.

South Wales Argus: TRY TIME: Rio Dyer finishes impressivelyTRY TIME: Rio Dyer finishes impressively

Ulster led 19-3 but the Dragons finally crossed their line when Griffiths charged powerfully over with the TMO decision followed by a Davies conversion.

But rather than the hosts closing in, the killer blow came when the fly-half had a pass picked off by centre Moore who ran over from 60 metres for a seven-pointer.

The Dragons needed to rally to push for a bonus and had try number two when, after Ulster were reduced to 14 with a Nick Timoney yellow, hard carrying was followed by Dyer finishing smartly down the left.

At 26-15 they needed to strike again and it looked grim when Ulster moved into the 22 with hard-carrying… only to then shoot themselves in the foot.

Replacement centre Nick Tompkins intercepted, shipped onto Jonah Holmes and Josh Lewis added the extras.

Ulster finished on the front foot but the Dragons would have shared their relief at the ball being kicked out. A point wasn’t a bad return after how things had been looking after the interception.

Dragons: J Lewis; J Holmes, A Owen (N Tompkins 51), J Roberts, R Dyer; S Davies, R Williams (captain, G Bertranou 59); B Harris (J Reynolds 59), R Hibbard, L Fairbrother (A Jarvis 66), J Davies (M Screech 51), J Maksymiw (B Carter 51), H Keddie, B Fry (D Baker 51, R Lawrence 75), O Griffiths.
Scorers: tries – O Griffiths, R Dyer, J Holmes; conversions – S Davies, J Lewis; penalty – S Davies

Ulster: J Stockdale; C Gilroy, S Moore, S McCloskey, R Lyttle; M Lowry, A Mathewson; E O'Sullivan, J Andrew, R Kane, A O'Connor (captain), K Treadwell, D McCann, S Reidy, N Timoney.
Replacements: B Roberts, C Reid, G Milasinovich, C Izuchukwu, M Rea, D Shanahan, I Madigan, E McIlroy.
Scorers: tries – A Mathewson, S Moore (2), J Andrew; conversions 

Referee: Adam Jones (WRU)