THE Dragons are under pressure to repeat last year’s home run when they get their United Rugby Championship campaign under way this afternoon.

The Rodney Parade club start with a home encounter against Edinburgh (kick-off 3.05pm) and they will be in Newport for four of the first five rounds.

The Dragons finished one from bottom of the URC last season despite having an encouraging first block of the season that featured wins against eventual champions Munster, the Ospreys and Zebre at Rodney Parade.

Dai Flanagan’s men also suffered narrow Parade losses to the Sharks, Cardiff and Connacht and know the importance of getting over the line when on home soil.

Edinburgh are followed by Cardiff with Leinster and the Ospreys following a round-three trip to Cork.

Get it right and the Dragons will start the season well, get it wrong and they will be playing catch-up with tough away games to come.

South Wales Argus: BOSS: Dragons head coach Dai FlanaganBOSS: Dragons head coach Dai Flanagan (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“It's nice to be at home the first game so everyone's looking forward. This first block is the only thing we really focused on most of the summer,” said head coach Flanagan, whose side didn't win a URC away game last season.

“Obviously we want to grow a game and it's nice to do that at home with four of the first five there.

“We're aware of the opportunity we have with playing those games at home. It’s a tough league the United Rugby Championship – and you need to win your home games.

“That’s what we're targeting, making Rodney Parade a tough place to go.

“We were close in a lot of games last year and didn’t get a result. That's why pre-season has been quite pleasing because we managed to pull home late on in both games [against the Ospreys and Scarlets].

“We’ve got to be tough at home then on the road we can be a side that expresses ourself with no fear.”

South Wales Argus: JOY: Steff Hughes celebrates in the Dragons win against the Ospreys last seasonJOY: Steff Hughes celebrates in the Dragons win against the Ospreys last season (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

The Dragons have not won a league opener since beating Ulster in 2013 and last year they endured a 44-6 drubbing in Edinburgh that led to the sacking of director of rugby Dean Ryan.

They do head into today’s game with a six-month winning streak courtesy of winning their last competitive fixture against the Scarlets at Judgement Day on April 22.

However, their last Rodney Parade victory was almost 12 months ago when they hammered hapless Zebre and captain Steff Hughes knows they need to send their fans home happy.

“The first block is big and a brilliant opportunity to play four from five games at home. I don't think that fixture list happens very often,” said the centre.

“We've spoken a lot about just really given that our all, getting a good start on the weekend and then building from that.

“It then it builds a bit of momentum moving forward, especially going away to Munster and then going to South Africa after that first block.”