DEAN Ryan can take plenty of heart from the way his Dragons have become much more competitive this season, but he has also seen just how “damaging” the Rodney Parade pitch can be.

The Welsh region’s 24-17 victory over Edinburgh today, thanks in part to a Matthew Screech try brace, was their second win in a three-match stint at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.

Speaking after the game, the Dragons’ final Guinness PRO14 fixture of the campaign, boss Ryan admitted his charges played some of their best rugby in the first half.

He had also been delighted with the performances in the two preceding matches against Ulster and Glasgow, which they lost 26-22 and won 26-17 respectively.

The Dragons are now set to return home to Rodney Parade for Saturday’s European Challenge Cup last-16 clash with Northampton Saints.

With the Dragons and Newport County AFC taking some time away from the ground, the pitch will be in a much better state than it was in when they left it.

“Those who have allowed us to play at the Principality Stadium have been fantastic,” said Ryan. “We’ve come alive in the environment.

“We’ve also seen how damaging the surface (at Rodney Parade) has been to us.

“We are definitely working hard on creating a more mobile game, but after the rest we’ll be ready to go again at the weekend.”

Reflecting on the league campaign, one in which the Dragons recorded their highest tally of wins since 2015, he added: “I’m pretty pleased with where we are.

“It was six wins out of 16 when we didn’t have people through coronavirus, injuries and everything else.

“It’s six wins when our internationals have been non-existent across the whole year.

“All that says to me is we’ve got a young group that’s developing and being more competitive at this level, and we’ve got to keep building on that.

“When our internationals come in, we need to get better, but we’re pretty happy with the group that’s travelling week to week.

“They are becoming more competitive and therefore results are more consistent.”

The Dragons did have an outside chance of finishing fourth in Conference A and claiming a Champions Cup place going into today's clash.

However, a 45-point winning margin was always going to be just a bit too much to achieve.

“The first half hour was some of our best stuff,” said Ryan. “But then it is human behaviour to start thinking it’s possible and everything else.

“We see how simple the game can be (in the first half) and then see how complicated sometimes we make it.

“In the end I think full credit goes to the team because we had to rescue a win.

“That is difficult after you have been in a dominant position and chasing a points difference.”