THE Dragons won at Rodney Parade for the first time in over a year after beating the 14-man Ospreys 20-5 in the United Rugby Championship.

Dai Flanagan’s men will hope that derby delight will spark their season into life after they exploited a 28th-minute red card for Mat Protheroe.

The Ospreys winger, who opened the scoring, smashed Will Reed with a head-high challenge after the fly-half fielded a kick.

With shades of Tom Curry’s dismissal for England at the World Cup, referee Ben Whitehouse didn’t need too many views before showing red.

That allowed the Dragons to turn a 5-0 deficit into a 13-5 lead at the break courtesy of the boot of Cai Evans and a try by hooker Bradley Roberts.

They failed to kill the game off against Edinburgh on opening weekend when in a commanding position and blew chances galore until a Rio Dyer clincher with 15 to go when the Ospreys were down to 13 men courtesy of a Luke Morgan yellow card.

South Wales Argus: JOY: Bradley Roberts powered over for the Dragons against the OspreysJOY: Bradley Roberts powered over for the Dragons against the Ospreys (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

It was their first win in Newport since beating Zebre in October 2022 with three of the eight losses (plus a ninth in Ystrad Mynach) coming this season.

That heaped the pressure on Flanagan’s side to get off the mark before a double-header in South Africa against the Sharks and Lions.

The relief and freedom that should come from victory means those tough encounters are now real opportunities.

Regardless of the numerical advantage, the Dragons played with much more intent and were boosted by a strong scrummaging display. They still lacked a killer instinct in the 22 but victory should settle their nerves.

This victory wasn’t as high-octane as last season’s win against the Ospreys but this was arguably a more precious triumph given the first block of the campaign, plus the opening exchanges.

The Ospreys struck first in the fifth minute after some shoddy defensive work by the Dragons, who left a ruck unguarded after a strong Owen Watkin carry put them on the back foot.

Scrum-half Reuben Morgan-Williams sniped and then chipped for Protheroe to go over down the left for a 5-0 lead.

The Dragons then suffered a huge blow in the 13th minute when Wales lock Ben Carter limped off after receiving a slightly naughty late clear-out from tighthead Tom Botha after the whistle had gone for a breakdown penalty.

South Wales Argus: OFF: Mat Protheroe was sent off for the Ospreys at the DragonsOFF: Mat Protheroe was sent off for the Ospreys at the Dragons (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

A lineout steal and Cai Evans’ kick through earned a prime attacking opportunity for the Dragons in the 18th minute but Wales number eight Aaron Wainwright was penalised for rolling after the tackle on his carry from the five-metre scrum.

However, the hosts were on the scoreboard in the 25th minute when a strong scrum allowed Evans to split the posts against his former side to make it 5-3.

That was soon followed by Protheroe’s dismissal, and he wasn’t the only one to get their marching orders.

Dragons conditioning coach Dan Baugh was told not to return to the field in his role of water boy after the former Canada flanker put his hand on Ben Whitehouse’s shoulder after being warned about the way he had spoken to the referee.

It soon became a double blow for the Ospreys with flanker Justin Tipuric forced off through injury, although his replacement wasn’t too shabby in Wales skipper Jac Morgan.

The hosts then hit the front after piling on the pressure in the 22 then settling for a simple Evans three-pointer from in front of the posts.

The Dragons scrum – a problem area in the loss to Leinster – was getting them on the front foot and allowed them to stretch clear before the break.

A penalty was kicked to just outside the 22 and then Roberts hit his man before receiving Ollie Griffiths’ inside ball to charge over. Strong finish, poor defence.

Evans converted from wide on the left and at half-time the Dragons were in a commanding position that they just couldn’t let slip at 13-5 in front against 14 men.

The full-back was wide from the tee four minutes after the restart as the hosts attempted to apply scoreboard pressure.

South Wales Argus: RAPID: Rio Dyer on the charge for the Dragons against the OspreysRAPID: Rio Dyer on the charge for the Dragons against the Ospreys (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

Brilliant play by Rhodri Williams, counter-attacking from his own 22 and putting in a well-judged grubber kick, allowed them to hunt a seven-pointer from a five-metre lineout.

Rio Dyer, Aneurin Owen and Sio Tomkinson joined the forwards but the Ospreys, with Wales and Lions lock Adam Beard pivotal, held them out.

Another lineout in the 22 was wonky as the Dragons struggled to kill the game off but they then had a big opportunity when the Ospreys were reduced to 13 men.

Luke Morgan, formerly of Rodney Parade, was shown yellow for a dangerous tackle on opposite number Dyer.

That led to the Dragons changing their decision to go for goal but another attacking opportunity in the 22 was pointless.

Another opportunity was blown in the 63rd minute when a searing Dyer counter attack from 22 to 22 was followed by a wild pass from the usually calm Aneurin Owen; the centre would have been caught by the scrambling Owen Watkin but couldn’t find Ewan Rosser down the left.

That was immediately followed by ANOTHER red zone miss after Aki Seiuli snaffled the overthrown lineout but the 13-man Ospreys scrambled to earn a scrum and an escape.

Thankfully the overlap was exploited in the 66th minute when the ball was worked to the right for Dyer to sprint over for a try that Evans converted to make it 20-5.

The Dragons had their chances to push for a bonus point but a simple two-try victory will do after a chastening start to the season.

Dragons: C Evans; Dyer, Tomkinson (S Hughes 64), Owen, E Rosser (Hewitt 71); Reed, R Williams (captain, Blacker 64); R Jones (Seiuli 60), Roberts (Dee 61), Fairbrother (Coleman 60), Screech, Carter (Nott 12), Lonsdale, Griffiths (Woodman 75), Wainwright.

Scorers: tries – Roberts, Dyer; conversions – C Evans (2); penalties – Evans (2).

Ospreys scorer: try – Protheroe.

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales).

Attendance: 6,277.