GEORGE Nott admits the Dragons’ poor start to the United Rugby Championship has piled on the pressure for tonight’s Challenge Cup opener against Oyonnax.

The Rodney Parade club desperately need to get the European campaign off to a winning start against a side whose priority is Top 14 survival.

The Dragons travel to Pau next weekend then head to Zebre Parma in January before finishing at home to the Sharks.

They have little margin for error and their URC form hasn’t exactly sent confidence soaring.

The Dragons’ win against the 14-man Ospreys is their only success and they head into tonight’s game after two heavy defeat in South Africa when they shipped 69 points to the 10-try Sharks and 49 to the six-try Lions.

South Wales Argus: Dragons lock George NottDragons lock George Nott (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“The first game in Europe, especially at home, is crucial if you want to progress out of the group,” said Nott.

“We know how important it is and are excited by it. The pressure is building and it's how we react, so hopefully we will show everyone a good reaction.”

The Dragons headed to South Africa buoyed by their derby win against the Ospreys but suffered two thrashings after racking up the errors in Durban and Johannesburg.

Nott hopes a change of competition will spark a change of fortune with a Boxing Day derby at Cardiff and New Year’s Day clash with the Scarlets in Newport looming.

“We all start level. We are going for it and one thing you want to do as a player is get to the final stages of competitions," said the former Sale and London Irish forward.

“We are up for it and the Challenge Cup has come at the right time. We need a momentum shift, you could feel that in the Ospreys game, the change of mood with the fans after the game.

“We owe them because they support us week in, week out and we have only given them one win to celebrate all season. Going into the derbies with two wins under our belts would be great.”

Oyonnax have tinkered with their team after suffering a dramatic defeat at the death to Bordeaux-Begles last weekend but French squads are deeper than Welsh ones.

“They will be a tough challenge and one of the hardest things about playing teams like Oyonnax is that you don't know exactly what to expect, so this week we have mostly focused on ourselves,” said Nott.

“We know what we need to do and that if we do what we are capable off then we will be a tricky team to break down, especially at home with the crowd behind us.”