IT only provided four points but don’t underestimate the importance of the Dragons’ United Rugby Championship derby win against the Ospreys.

The Rodney Parade club will head to South Africa for a double-header on Tuesday in high spirits thanks to Saturday evening’s 20-5 triumph in Newport.

The Ospreys started sharply and took the lead through wing Mat Protheroe but the game swung when he turned villain in the 28th minute.

He was red-carded by referee Ben Whitehouse for a head-on-head tackle on Will Reed after the Dragons fly-half had fielded a kick.

The hosts made that count to lead 13-5 at the break thanks to hooker Bradley Roberts’ well-taken try from a lineout and the right boot of Cai Evans.

Chances were blown by the Dragons to stretch away but the killer blow came after the Ospreys were reduced to 13 when winger Luke Morgan was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle on Rio Dyer.

It was the Wales winger that sealed the success when he finished off a slick backs move to race over down the right.

South Wales Argus: Aki Seiuli and the Dragons celebrate their derby win against the OspreysAki Seiuli and the Dragons celebrate their derby win against the Ospreys (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


The scenes at the final whistle were fantastic as the Dragons players took the acclaim from the terrace, something they hadn’t done since October 2022 when Zebre were hammered at Rodney Parade.

The punters – professional rugby’s longest-suffering supporters? – had seen eight defeats in Newport plus one in Ystrad Mynach.

They are a loyal bunch but the start of this season had tested their patience with a botched job against Edinburgh on opening weekend from a position of strength and then a flat display against Cardiff.

With those games followed by predicted defeats to Irish heavyweights Munster and Leinster, the pressure was on to repeat last season’s win against the Ospreys.

The 2022 triumph was a high-octane thriller but this 2023 one was more of a solid win against the 14 men, with the Dragons playing with discipline to avoid losing their numerical advantage.

They never gave the Ospreys a sniff in the second half.

It means that Dai Flanagan’s men head to South Africa with an element of freedom and they boast the game-breakers to potentially cause an upset against the winless Sharks and the Lions.

However, one area certainly needs to improve…

South Wales Argus: Dragons back rower Ollie Griffiths powers towards the lineDragons back rower Ollie Griffiths powers towards the line (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


The Dragons scored two tries but this really should have been a bonus-point victory.

Both their tries came from training ground moves from outside the 22 while by my reckoning they had 11 trips to the red zone.

Just one of them yielded points - the penalty to take the lead after half an hour.

There were a variety of frustrations from a foot in touch when making a pass from a ruck to wonky lineouts to wild passes to good Ospreys lineout defence.

It’ll be much nicer for these moments to be dissected in analysis after a victory than it was after the defeat to Edinburgh.

South Wales Argus: HAPPY: Dragons prop Lloyd FairbrotherHAPPY: Dragons prop Lloyd Fairbrother (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


The Dragons have a tough time against Leinster in round four but six days later had the edge over the Ospreys to take command.

A big shove earned their first three points from the boot of Evans and then it set the scene for Roberts’ try – a scrum penalty was kicked to just outside the 22 for the lineout move that was no doubt honed on the Ystrad Mynach pitch.

The scrummaging performance was particularly pleasing for former Ospreys loosehead Rhodri Jones, who had a tricky afternoon against Leinster.

He is a prop who is built like a back rower – and at times one wonders whether he’s too slim – but the nuts and bolts of the game were strong in the derby win.

One thing is for sure, the set piece will be put under the microscope in Durban and Johannesburg over the coming weeks.

South Wales Argus: CLINCHER: Rio Dyer races over for the Dragons against the OspreysCLINCHER: Rio Dyer races over for the Dragons against the Ospreys (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


The Dragons played against 14 men for most of this game so should have won and they did so thanks to a mixture of Test quality and those that go under the radar.

Dyer was incredible, beating seven defenders and racking up 121 metres with ball in hand, according to the URC stats.

He was also solid under the high ball and formed a good back three with official man of the match Evans and novice Ewan Rosser.

That was just one of a number of combinations that worked nicely: the midfield of Aneurin Owen and Sio Tomkinson, fly-half Will Reed and consistently good scrum-half Rhodri Williams, the back row of the dynamic Ollie Griffiths and Aaron Wainwright with workhorse Sean Lonsdale, the starting front row and then their replacements.

However, a special word of praise for stalwart Matthew Screech and George Nott in the second row.

It was a huge blow to lose Ben Carter in the first quarter but Nott came on and produced a big performance while Screech looks to be getting back to the form of his first spell at Rodney Parade.

There was genuinely no weak link in the Dragons side against the Ospreys, now the challenge is to repeat the trick in South Africa.