PERHAPS the much-maligned Rainbow Cup presents a golden chance for the Dragons to add to the Premiership Rugby 7s trophy in the Rodney Parade cabinet.

Dean Ryan’s men started the competition with a 52-32 success against the Scarlets in Newport, the second successive bonkers game at the ground that has left defence coaches in tears.

There were six tries in the first half with Jonah Holmes, Jordan Williams and Aaron Wainwright going over for the Dragons only for the Scarlets to lead 22-17 thanks to efforts by Iestyn Rees, Steff Evans and Dane Blacker.

Back came the hosts through rapid winger Rio Dyer, young centre Aneurin Owen and Holmes again for a 41-22 lead inside the quarter.

There was a late collapse against Northampton in the (more important) European Challenge Cup and there was the fear of a repeat when Evans went over again, swiftly followed by fellow Wales international Johnny McNicholl.

But Wainwright was at the double courtesy of a driving lineout and the Dragons secured a deserved victory.

They finished the PRO14 strongly and picked up where they left off in the Rainbow Cup.

South Wales Argus: BACK: Taine BashamBACK: Taine Basham

The game had the feel of a pre-season fixture - 12 tries were scored but was it entertaining?

Probably but in a very different way to the intense, try-fest versus Northampton in the European Challenge Cup.

When the Scarlets visited Rodney Parade in the August sun to finish the 2019/20 PRO14 season we were glad to have rugby again but the Rainbow Cup leaves plenty pondering why we still have rugby.

Nonetheless, there were plenty of players out there grateful for the experience and minutes out in the middle.

The Dragons’ young contingent continue to impress with playmaker Aneurin Owen performing strongly against Lions hopeful Jonathan Davies.

There were bright moments from Ben Carter, Dyer and Jared Rosser on his debut at 13, plus Evan Lloyd and Josh Reynolds were impressive off the bench in the second half.

They were aided by the Wales internationals with wing Holmes hunting for work and carrying hard to win the man of the match award while back rowers Aaron Wainwright and Ross Moriarty were influential.

Lions might be beyond them but prominent Test action could be on the cards this summer.

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It was a manic start with the Dragons on the front foot despite playing into the wind.

They went close when Scarlets speedster Tom Rogers got back well after Holmes chipped over the top and then chased along with Rosser and Dyer.

However, the hosts were over after just four minutes when Holmes was put over by Sam Davies and Rhodri Williams; good finish by the Wales wing, poor defence by Wales centre Davies.

The 5-0 lead didn’t last long with the scorer losing grip of the ball after fielding the restart for wing Steff Evans to put flanker Rees over.

Sam Costelow converted for a 7-5 lead but the game then got scrappy with flashes of inspiration combined with errors.

But the second try was a slick one that started with a strong carry by the influential Holmes from a scrum, followed by a line break by Moriarty.

He slowed for his supporting fellow Wales back rower Wainwright to take the ball into contact in the 22 and Sam Davies then put Jordan Williams over down the left.

The fly-half converted via the post and Costelow responded with three from the tee to cut the Dragons’ lead to 12-10 after 24 minutes.

The hosts blew a chance for a third try after kicking a penalty to five metres out because of their misfiring lineout but were soon over when Wainwright bullied Johnny McNicholl to snaffle a loose ball and then crashed over after Holmes had gone close.

The Dragons were more than good value for a 17-10 lead but were behind at half-time after the Scarlets had a purple patch.

First Steff Evans was over in the corner after a super break by former Dragon Angus O’Brien and then Blacker, also briefly a Dragon, became the latest player to exploit prop Greg Bateman at a ruck.

The visitors led 22-17 at half but the momentum swung back to the Dragons with 10 points soon after the resumption.

Davies knocked over a penalty and then converted a peach of a try by Dyer for the bonus.

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The speedster got onto a grubber by replacement Evan Lloyd, gave the ball inside to Jack Dixon and then finished after getting it back from the substitute centre.

The Dragons were close to a fifth when Rhodri Williams burst down the blindside but the captain was denied by a superb last-ditch tackle by McNicholl, one that also saw the skipper forced off through injury.

But they weren’t to be denied for long with Owen going over for his first senior try after lovely handling by fellow young gun Lloyd, Davies converting for a 34-22 lead.

"Keep playing, boys," was the call from conditioning coach Dan Baugh, mindful of the late collapse against Northampton.

They did just that with Holmes easing past some appalling Scarlets defence to stretch the lead to 41-22 inside the final quarter.

But the visitors had a sniff when Evans crossed wide left and then McNicholl intercepted Owen on halfway before just having too much pace for Dyer.

The windy conditions meant conversions were wide and it was 41-32 with eight to go, and the Dragons calmed the nerves with a driving lineout try by Wainwright.

Davies missed the conversion but boomed over a penalty from halfway to secure the derby win then helped the Dragons pass the half-century with the final kick.

It’s just a shame they have to wait a fortnight before going to Cardiff.

Dragons: J Williams (E Lloyd 43); J Holmes, J Rosser (J Dixon 43), A Owen, R Dyer; S Davies, R Williams (captain, D Babos 54); G Bateman (J Reynolds 46), T Davies (R Lawrence), C Coleman (A Jarvis 52), B Carter, J Maksymiw (M Screech 46), R Moriarty, T Basham (D Baker 63), A Wainwright.
Scorers: Holmes (2), J Williams, Wainwright (2), Dyer, Owen; conversions - Davies (4); penalties - Davies (3).

Scarlets: J McNicholl; T Rogers, T Morgan, J Davies, S Evans; S Costelow, D Blacker; R Evans, R Elias (captain), A Jeffries, J Ball, M Jones, B Thomson, I Rees, U Cassiem.
Replacements: D Hughes, S Thomas, W Kruger, L Rawlins, C Tuipulotu, K Hardy, A O’Brien, S Hughes.
Scorers: Rees, Evans (2), Blacker, McNicholl; conversions - Costelow (2); penalty – Costelow.

Referee: Craig Evans (WRU)