DRAGONS great Nic Cudd had many qualities but one thing that the tenacious openside flanker excelled at was damage limitation.

The ultimate competitor, there were countless times that a game would be long gone but the flanker would come up with a turnover when his team were under the pump.

Cudd still endured more than his fair share of heavy losses but the scars on his head showed that he wasn’t one for waving a white flag.

The Dragons need to tap into that spirit if, and probably when, things are going against them versus the Lions on Saturday.

Yes, they head to Ellis Park with the intention of a shock win after being edged out 33-25 in the URC last season before a 31-31 draw at the same venue in the Challenge Cup a fortnight later.

But they also go into his weekend’s game with the need to restore some pride after an absolute hammering against the Sharks at Kings Park last weekend.

The score was 34-14 on the hour and it ended up being a 69-14 embarrassment.

That is a league high for points conceded by the Dragons in the league and is only kept off top spot by last season’s European Challenge Cup shambles at Glasgow when beaten 73-33.

The scores in the past three seasons have been unacceptably high with opponents raising their bats after half-centuries on six occasions, plus a couple of games where dominant sides have clocked off.

There have been too many scorelines that belong in World Cup group stages and the Dragons need to know when to take their medicine.

Granted, the bonus point system can cause problems because a hammering can be humiliating yet not pointless if the opposition’s line is crossed four times.

I was in Cork to see the Dragons do that on the final afternoon of the 2015 campaign and against Glasgow they got a consolation at the death when Chris Coleman barged over in a 42-28 loss.

It was part of their thinking last weekend, but getting too loose only resulted in the scoreboard getting out of control.

Without a specialist fly-half, things got ragged and the Sharks scored five final-quarter tries through Phepsi Buthelezi, Lappies Labuschagne, Grant Williams, Aphelele Fassi and Lukhanyo Am.

They showed the killer instinct that the Dragons lacked in a four-pointer against the Ospreys that should have been a five-pointer, with the help of the sloppy Welsh tourists in Durban.

South Wales Argus: TOUGH: The Dragons in a huddle after being hammered by the SharksTOUGH: The Dragons in a huddle after being hammered by the Sharks (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“Our last 20 minutes was tough to take for me, the players and I am sure the fans and anyone affiliated with the club. We cannot accept that,” admitted Flanagan.

“We go into games with themes around what needs to be done in order to be in the game. A big one was not giving the Sharks anything to feed on, but we fed them.

“We gave them opportunity after opportunity after opportunity. There comes a time when we have got to protect ourselves because the scoreline mounts up.”

There is the bigger picture with the Dragons under new ownership and needing to be taken seriously.

In two away games, Flanagan's side have so far conceded 17 tries - more than 10 sides have in all six URC fixtures - and 114 points, doing little for their reputation.

The Dragons are currently 30/1 to win for the first time on South African soil on Saturday.

It’s likely that they will lose against the Lions, but it’s the manner of that loss in Johannesburg that many of us will be keen to see after the capitulation in Durban.