THE Dragons upset the odds at Parc y Scarlets to end their 13-game winless streak in style.

Dean Ryan’s men were huge underdogs for the United Rugby Championship clash in Llanelli but stunned the home support, who were expecting their side to strengthen their play-off bid.

The Dragons trailed 15-14 at half-time after tries by centre Dixon and flanker Taine Basham were countered by scores from number eight Sione Kalamafoni and full-back Liam Williams.

The visitors struck first after the restart through wing Jared Rosser then responded to scores by Kieran Hardy and Johnny Williams with efforts by hooker Taylor Davies, on loan from the Scarlets, and scrum-half Rhodri Williams.

Here are the talking points from the 38-27 triumph in Llanelli


A drab, 9-3 would have done the job after waiting so long for a win but this game certainly didn’t lack drama.

The Dragons produced a magnificent performance to take the spoils in a derby cracker that swung one way then the other, with the lead changing hands seven times.

This was a success that highlights why we are so frustrated with the 2021/22 campaign. As Taine Basham said pre-game, the Dragons have the talent for a much, much better record.

They have won just two games but the performances in those victories have been magnificent to end a pair of hoodoos, winning in Galway for the first time since the first season of regional rugby and then triumphing at Parc y Scarlets for the first time at the 14th attempt.

The Dragons can rightly point out budget disparities but the simple fact is that they haven’t been anywhere near as good as they should have been this season and the squad put their hands up to that. In Galway and Llanelli they have shown what they are capable of.

It’s clear that the Dragons are a different beast when they have their Wales contingent but this performance contrasted starkly with the missed opportunities against Perpignan, Benetton, Cardiff and the Ospreys.

Now the challenge is to repeat that in a run-in featuring Saturday’s return against the Scarlets and winnable fixtures against Zebre, the Ospreys, Cardiff and the Lions.

Then the next task would be to pick up where they left off in 2022/23.

South Wales Argus: TEST: The Scarlets hit the front through Kieran Hardy approaching the hourTEST: The Scarlets hit the front through Kieran Hardy approaching the hour


Given the winless streak, there were several moments when heads could easily have dropped.

The Scarlets emerged from their spell down to 13 with minor damage to promptly go in front and then the hosts struck with the clock in the red to snatch the half-time lead.

The Dragons’ response was strong on both occasions with tries by Basham and Rosser.

But they really had to dig deep when the Scarlets went over for their bonus point approaching the hour when it really felt like Gloucester all over.

Discipline was slipping and they were putting themselves under pressure with errors.

Had Angus O’Brien’s conversion gone over then perhaps it would have broken the Dragons, instead they came flying back to not only sneak victory but win by 11.


The Scarlets are without some key forwards so are clearly not Munster, the Bulls, Sharks or Gloucester.

However, the Dragons largely stood firm against the driving lineout seven days after they had been marched over their line three times by the Cherry and Whites.

The set piece was not a deciding factor and that bodes well for their remaining fixtures.

South Wales Argus: INFLUENTIAL: Dragons and Wales lock Will RowlandsINFLUENTIAL: Dragons and Wales lock Will Rowlands


Certain players have the ability to raise standards, as we often saw with Taulupe Faletau at the Dragons.

Will Rowlands is doing that at Rodney Parade – the Wales lock has been incredible since arriving from Wasps last summer.

The 30-year-old was mystifyingly dropped to the bench for Alun Wyn Jones in the Six Nations finale but take reputation out of the selection and it will be the Dragons man back with Adam Beard against South Africa this summer.

The Dragons are transformed when he is in the side.

The loss of Wales back rowers Ross Moriarty, Taine Basham and Aaron Wainwright isn’t terminal when you can call on Harri Keddie, Ben Fry and Ollie Griffiths.

However, the drop-off was substantial when it was Joe Davies and Joe Maksymiw in the second row; they are willing and steady grafters but Rowlands is a Test beast.

His work rate is incredible and his hits and carries remain forceful when the clock is in the 70s.

Rowlands was a 9/10 at Parc y Scarlets with a daft lineout penalty for taking Aaron Shingler early his only clanger.

Not only is Rowlands a magnificent player but he is the perfect partner to help in the development of Ben Carter.

The 21-year-old was superb in Llanelli but we must remember that he has just 35 senior appearances to his name (29 Dragons, six Wales).

After a rapid rise, the presence of Rowlands will help the youngster in the quest towards consistency.

South Wales Argus: LEADER: Dragons back rower Harri KeddieLEADER: Dragons back rower Harri Keddie


It was Dixon that landed the man of the match honour and it was richly deserved.

Ryan seems to have a bee in his bonnet about the centre and Harri Keddie not getting recognition. I can only assume he doesn’t have an Argus subscription. You can view online in Gloucestershire, Dean… Dixon looked sure to be an international when he burst onto the scene and was called up for the 2015 World Cup training squad.

On this form that elusive cap could still come for the 27-year-old – his performances deserve for him to at least be in the Wales management’s selection meeting ahead of South Africa.

The same goes for Keddie, who has never shirked from graft and is now enjoying big moments.

The 25-year-old also seems to be flourishing with the responsibility of captaincy, which is helping him to not linger on errors and moving onto the next task.

There can be no complaints if Keddie doesn’t get the call given Wales’ back-row riches but in a challenging season he has provided plenty of pleasure.

South Wales Argus: YELLOW: Ben Whitehouse sin bins Jonathan DaviesYELLOW: Ben Whitehouse sin bins Jonathan Davies


Ryan made his post-match feelings clear about the decision to only show Jonathan Davies a yellow card (click: HERE).

My first thought was red as soon as the hit went in (and the press box is on the 22 where the incident occurred) but it was the first of a number of mystifying decisions by referee Ben Whitehouse.

Scarlets supporters can grumble about the grounding for the Dixon try, a completed tackle for Rosser’s and the lack of a yellow card for offences in the red zone.

The Dragons will question whether the Kalamafoni effort should have been looked at closer when he scored from a close-range ruck, while the breakdown was perplexing throughout the evening.

It’s not easy being a ref but at least Mr Whitehouse wasn’t the deciding factor because both teams had their share of generous calls.

In the cold light of day the Scarlets supporters that jeered Davies’ match-clinching conversion will be lamenting their side’s failure to seal the spoils when 27-21 up in the final quarter.