STANDARDS have gone up in the United Rugby Championship and the Dragons have struggled to move with the times.

It was a nightmare campaign for Dean Ryan’s men, one that started with optimism and near misses but ended in resignation to defeat.

There were two tremendous highs – bonus-points wins at Connacht and the Scarlets to end long losing streaks in Galway and Llanelli – but some awful lows and not a single victory at Rodney Parade.

The Dragons suffered a record defeat when smashed 64-3 by Munster at Thomond Park in March and conceded a half-century on three other occasions to the Bulls, Sharks and Ospreys.

On the whole it has been grim viewing and boss Dean Ryan knows he must do better in 2022/23 after a strong recruitment drive.

The season has been a shocker because of the talent in the squad but where does it rank with past efforts?

South Wales Argus: Dragons boss Dean RyanDragons boss Dean Ryan

OVERALL WIN PERCENTAGE

It was comfortably the Dragons’ worst for the win ratio in all competitions – they had two successes from 22 games for a percentage of 9.1.

The previous worst was 22.6 under Bernard Jackman in 2017/18, his first season in charge when it became clear big changes were going to be made to his squad halfway through the campaign.

That percentage was boosted by games against Enisei-STM and in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

The 2017/18 record was worse than the season before under Kingsley Jones, played amid the challenging backdrop of the Welsh Rugby Union takeover. That 2016/17 campaign had a win percentage of 25.

In fact, four of the seasons since the WRU takeover occupy the bottom five for win ratios with Dean Ryan’s first at the helm ranked sixth in the table (P22, W9, D1, L12 – 40.9 per cent).

South Wales Argus: RARE JOY: The Dragons stunned the ScarletsRARE JOY: The Dragons stunned the Scarlets

LEAGUE WINS

The Dragons had the joint worst record for wins with just two successes like in 2017/18.

It should be noted that the league format has frequently changed and they have played 17 games to the 21 of four years ago. They averaged a win every 9 games this season compared to 10.5 in 2017/18.

The previous lows were four in 2015/16 and 2016/17, both 22-game campaigns.

MATCH POINTS

The Dragons notched 19 match points this season because of their two wins, draw, pair of four-try bonuses and five losing bonuses.

That works out at just 1.06 points per game – but it wasn’t their worst average. In 2017/18 they managed just 0.95 match points per game after recording 20 from 21 games.

Other lows were 2018/19 (26 from 21, average 1.2), 2016/17 (23 from 22, 1.05) and 2015/16 (26 from 22, 1.2).

The highest average is from the first season of regional rugby when Mike Ruddock’s side notched 72 points from 22 games (3.3).

South Wales Argus: Jonah Holmes finished superbly at ConnachtJonah Holmes finished superbly at Connacht

ATTACK

The Dragons scored 305 points from 18 games (average 16.9) and crossed for 36 tries (average 2).

The points per game is steady compared to past campaigns and is a considerable improvement on last year, when they scored 215 from 16 fixtures (average 13.4) – the lowest in the region’s history.

The try count is down on the last two seasons but is the sixth best, with the tally from the first campaign in 2003/4 the highest (59 from 22 games, 2.68).

DEFENCE

The Dragons conceded 547 points from 18 games (average 30.4) and shipped 71 tries to average just shy of allowing a bonus point per game at 3.94.

The points conceded has gone up from the past two seasons and was the second worst in the history behind 2017/18 (672 from 21 games, average 32).

The tries against was bronze on the podium of shame behind 2018/19 (84 from 21 games) with the 2017/18 way ahead (94 from 21, average 4.48).

The best season for points conceded was 2006/7 (average 18.1) while the best for tries conceded were 2011/12 and 2003/4 (1.86).

POINTS DIFFERENCE

The Dragons have only ever had one season when they have had a positive points difference – 2003/4 when they finished on +141. They came close in 2006/7 with -9 and in 2010/11 with -18.

The Dragons finished on -242. That is the third worst in the history behind 2017/18 (-294) and 2018/19 (-260).

South Wales Argus: OFF! Taine Basham was sin-binned at the Ospreys for a tripOFF! Taine Basham was sin-binned at the Ospreys for a trip

DISCIPLINE

A familiar theme of the run-in was the Dragons’ penalty count, which allowed opponents to put the squeeze on in the 22.

Ryan’s side were ranked bottom in the URC for penalties conceded – 221 at an average of 12.3 per game.

The URC stats go back to 2014/15 and the Dragons have only hit an average of double figures in the last three seasons. They have gone up from 10.1 in 2019/20 to 10.9 last season and risen rapidly to 12.3.

CONCLUSION

The season rivals 2017/18, when European results against Enisei-STM and Anglo-Welsh Cup games boosted the win rate, for the title of the Dragons’ worst.

However, that was the first year under Bernard Jackman whereas this is the third campaign under Dean Ryan, and it started with huge optimism.

This season has been a shocker – and that heaps the pressure on to start 2022/23 strongly.