IT’S not unusual for Dragons supporters to be starting to have feelings of dread about the season ahead at the end of October, it’s just not normally after two games.

The Rodney Parade club blew a big opportunity to get the United Rugby Championship, delayed due to the World Cup, off to a winning start against Edinburgh.

That was followed by Sunday’s derby stinker against Cardiff. It was a dreadful game but the Blue and Blacks won’t care after bagging four points.

The Dragons could have few complaints about a 16th straight loss to the Arms Park side after they racked up the errors, barely fired a shot and blew the few opportunities that came their way.

It was a deflating afternoon with a relatively small crowd for what is usually the club’s biggest money-spinner of the season.

South Wales Argus: SCORE: Cardiff centre Mason Grady went over for the only try of the gameSCORE: Cardiff centre Mason Grady went over for the only try of the game (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

A combination of a Sunday slot, a derby in the second round and absence of Wales internationals contributed to a flat atmosphere and the hosts did little to get their supporters involved.

There was a spark in the 33rd minute when Jared Rosser climbed high to claim one of the many aerial bombs.

Yet it turned into a Cardiff seven-pointer when Angus O’Brien’s attempted dab over the top was charged down and run in by Mason Grady.

That was somehow the only try of a grim encounter, with Rosser failing to gather with the line at his mercy at the start of the second half.

Two winnable games have yielded a pair of losing bonuses and now the Dragons face the daunting task of a trip to Munster followed by Leinster in Newport.

We knew that it would be a tough campaign for all four professional clubs in Wales but the pre-season optimism has gone in super-quick time at Rodney Parade.

The squad need to dust themselves down and give their long-suffering fans - who haven't seen a win in Newport since last October - something to cheer, even if it's in defeat to Irish big guns.

South Wales Argus: REJIG: The Dragons had to shift things around in their pack - with four locks and a hooker in the back rowREJIG: The Dragons had to shift things around in their pack - with four locks and a hooker in the back row (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


The Dragons’ planned trio of Sean Lonsdale, Harri Keddie and Dan Lydiate looked to lack dynamism but things got worse pretty quickly.

Lydiate pulled out for personal reasons and head coach Dai Flanagan was already without Wales internationals Aaron Wainwright and Taine Basham, the injured Ollie Griffiths and George Young plus young Ryan Woodman, who will be available soon after an extended break following his Wales Under-20s exertions.

George Nott came into the XV to make it two lock/blindsides in the back row but Lonsdale and Keddie were out through concussion after just 25 minutes, leaving the Dragons with Ben Carter, Nott and James Benjamin as a trio.

Benjamin was the starting openside last time the club beat Cardiff but he was a specialist back in 2015, now the footballing forward has bulked up to be a front row forward.

The result was an unbalanced and unconnected pack with players flung into unfamiliar roles, yet arguably the biggest problems weren’t up front.

They battled away despite their limitations but, sadly, all the starting backs produced 4 or 5/10 performances at best.

South Wales Argus: CHALLENGE: Jared Rosser goes up for the ballCHALLENGE: Jared Rosser goes up for the ball (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


Kicking isn’t bad, but bad kicking is dreadful.

New Zealand would have been world champions had England’s kick-based tactical plan sneaked a semi-final victory over a South African side saved by their scrum.

The Dragons probably would have beaten Edinburgh had they put boot to ball more frequently in the second half of their opener.

There was plenty of groaning from the stands in the derby defeat to Cardiff due to the amount of kicking but it was a good plan given the visitors’ breakdown prowess. In fact, it became even more prudent once the back row injuries hit.

However, the Dragons’ execution of that plan was poor and it will be interesting to see what the selection is for Cork next Saturday.


When Edinburgh were on top, the Dragons didn’t have anyone to change things with a big moment and it was similar against Cardiff.

There was nothing to get the crowd involved when the game was in the balance; no massive hits, busts with ball in hand or moments of brilliance. Not even a quality kick to provide a lift.

Granted, back rowers Griffiths, Wainwright, Basham and Lydiate were missed on that front but Cardiff also had their fair share of starters missing.

Not until tighthead Leon Brown cut a lovely line and then offloaded to Rhodri Williams was there some real snap, and that was at 10 points down with time running out.

South Wales Argus: CHARGE: Bradley Roberts put in a big shift for the DragonsCHARGE: Bradley Roberts put in a big shift for the Dragons (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


The Dragons had a makeshift back row but hooker Bradley Roberts tried to cover for them.

The Wales international was a positive in an 80 minutes filled with disappointment; for the second week running he played the full game and slogged his guts out.

Roberts was the Dragons’ leading tackler with nine and set the standard for successful carries with six, while his set piece work was sound.

At times he must wonder why he left Ulster after moving to try and really push on in the red of Wales (and then be overlooked by Wayne Pivac and Warren Gatland) but the pint-sized hooker packs a punch for the Dragons.