NEW season, familiar feeling for the Dragons after they suffered a 22-17 loss at Rodney Parade to Edinburgh in the United Rugby Championship.

Dai Flanagan’s men started the campaign with another defeat on home soil that could, perhaps should, have been a success.

The Dragons led 14-3 at the break thanks to tries in the first quarter by centre Sio Tomkinson and winger Corey Baldwin.

Penalties were then traded before Edinburgh captain and scrum-half Ben Vellacott went over with 15 minutes to go.

That cut the gap to 17-16 and then Ben Healy, fresh from World Cup duty, banged over a penalty to put the Scots in the lead for the first time in the 73rd minute.

He twisted the knife with the clock in the red after the Dragons paid the price for losing control and shape as the game progressed.

As daft as it sounds after opening weekend, next Sunday’s home clash with Cardiff now feels like a must-win.

The wait for a URC triumph in Newport will now stretch to a year going back to the thumping of Zebre at the end of last October.

This was a huge missed opportunity in a league that will pit them against bigger and nastier sides than Edinburgh.

South Wales Argus: OPENER: Sio Tomkinson put the Dragons in front in the second minute against EdinburghOPENER: Sio Tomkinson put the Dragons in front in the second minute against Edinburgh (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

The Dragons were without their five-strong Wales contingent but gave starting debuts to full-back Cai Evans, wing Baldwin and loosehead Gonzalo Martinez with scrum-half Dane Blacker waiting for his bow from the bench.

Scotland’s group-stage World Cup exit meant that they were able to call on four players – fly-half Ben Healy, hooker Dave Cherry, tighthead Javan Sebastian and back rower Luke Crosbie.

The Dragons were led out by dynamic back rower Ollie Griffiths on his 100th appearance and they were into the lead after just 66 seconds.

The ball was spread from a lineout drive just outside the 22 with centre Steff Hughes the first receiver, then fly-half Angus O’Brien offloaded to put wing Jared Rosser through.

The speedster kept his composure after the line break and put Tomkinson over for the opener with Evans adding the simple extras to make it 7-0.

The same combo nearly produced a second try in the 10th minute when Angus O’Brien kicked to Rosser on the left wing but Tomkinson couldn’t gather his inside pass under pressure.

Edinburgh had been hindered by handling mistakes and then they coughed up a penalty for going off their feet inside their 22, with the hosts opting for the corner rather than posts.

That decision paid off when Bradley Roberts went close after peeling off a driving lineout, then captain Steff Hughes kicked to the right wing for the unmarked Baldwin to (rather unconvincingly) dot down.

Evans converted superbly to make it 14-0 after a near-perfect first quarter for the Dragons.

They had a big chance to take complete control when, after a rapid burst by the impressive Rosser, another breakdown penalty was kicked to the corner only for a wonky lineout to gift an easy escape to the Scots.

Edinburgh had lacked a cutting edge in the 22 – with Griffiths at the fore of some strong defensive sets – and got on the scoreboard through the right boot of Healy in the 30th minute.

The Dragons lost Harri Keddie to an HIA and were put under the pump by the Scots’ strong driving lineout as half-time approached, a bout of pressure that came from Hughes’ attempted 50-22 agonisingly going the wrong side of the corner flag.

However, they held firm and then some fans thought a third try had been scored when Tomkinson raced over from 45 metres as half-time approached only for Irish referee Eoghan Cross to have correctly blown up for a knock-on in the tackle by O’Brien.

South Wales Argus: Ollie Griffiths on his 100th appearance for the DragonsOllie Griffiths on his 100th appearance for the Dragons (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

The Dragons started fast in the first half but the tables turned in the second with Healy knocking over a penalty in the 43rd minute to make it 14-6 after a Griffiths high tackle.

However, a strike play sent Baldwin charging into the 22 from a scrum and the Scots killed the attack to give Evans a simple response from the tee.

There should have been a key passage of play when a superb recovery catch by Rhodri Williams to prevent a knock-on 22 metres out, diving forward like a slip fielder, was followed by an O’Brien 50-22.

The Dragons won a penalty but turned down the shot at goal and Edinburgh held them out. There was a double whammy when the Scots went up the other end and Healy slotted a penalty to make it 17-9 after Hughes was pinged for holding on.

The gap was cut to a point with 15 minutes to go when Healy cut through after a show and go before putting the supporting Vellacott over.

The fly-half converted and then knocked over a penalty to make it 19-17 with eight minutes to go, that after an attack that contained a pass that looked suspiciously forward.

The Scots were bossing field position and kept the Dragons at arm’s length before winning a last-minute penalty that Healy knocked over with the clock in the red.

The Dragons started their season with another one that got away.

Dragons: C Evans (Reed 65); Baldwin (Dixon 57), Tomkinson, Hughes (captain), J Rosser; O’Brien, R Williams (Blacker 63); Martinez (R Jones 63), Roberts, Fairbrother (Yendle 63), Screech (J Davies 69), Carter, Nott (Lonsdale 63), Keddie (Lonsdale 35-40), Griffiths.

Replacements not used: Benjamin.

Scorers: tries – Tomkinson, Baldwin; conversions – C Evans (2); penalty – C Evans.

Edinburgh scorers: tries – Vellacott; conversions – Healy; penalties – B Healy (4).

Referee: Eoghan Cross (Ireland).

Attendance: 4,212