BOSS Dai Flanagan defended the Dragons’ kick-heavy tactics in their United Rugby Championship derby defeat to Cardiff.

The Blue and Blacks made it 16 wins on the spin against the Rodney Parade club thanks to a 16-9 triumph in Newport.

The Dragons were limited to three penalties from Angus O’Brien and frequently put boot to ball in tricky conditions.

There were frequent groans from the home support but head coach Flanagan pointed to the breakdown menace of the opposition.

“It was out of respect for what Cardiff have in their team with Liam Belcher, Thomas Young, Ellis Jenkins, Willis Halaholo,” he said.

“They are a threat at the contact area and if you overplay against Cardiff then you will get punished.

“You won’t see many teams play much rugby against Cardiff for that reason, what you will see is what we tried to execute with a big maul, which we could have got a bit more reward from.”

The Dragons trailed 13-6 at the break after Mason Grady’s try from a charge down then the hosts missed a golden opportunity straight after the restart.

Dane Blacker put a kick behind the defence but wing Jared Rosser failed to gather the ball in the right corner.

“Into a strong wind in the first half it is tough and if we had overplayed then we would have been 10 or 20 points behind,” said Flanagan.

“The frustration is that we caught one kick but went the wrong way and conceded seven points, then we put an edge kick through and didn’t score it for seven points.”

The Dragons, who also had to settle for a losing bonus from their clash with Edinburgh on opening weekend, were hindered by back row injuries.

They lost Dan Lydiate due to personal reasons then flanker Sean Lonsdale and number eight Harri Keddie went off with concussion inside the first half hour.

The Dragons finished with former flanker James Benjamin, who is now a hooker, in the back row with lock Ben Carter and lock/blindside George Nott.

“I thought the players were outstanding with the shift that they put in effort-wise but playing with four second rows and a hooker in your back row limits your options off lineout attack and phase play.

“We almost found a way but we need to stop being an almost team.”

The Dragons now face a trip to Munster and an equally daunting home encounter with Leinster.