THE Dragons plumbed new depths when their streak against Cardiff continued with not just a loss but a 55-21, nine-try humiliation.

The Rodney Parade club lost for the 17th successive time against the Blue and Blacks after Dai Flanagan’s side shipped seven tries in the first half at the Arms Park.

A United Rugby Championship contest that looked pretty even on paper was a complete mismatch when it mattered; Cardiff playing with aggression and exuberance against a Dragons side that were meek (despite it being a derby) and racked up the errors.

Tries by Rhys Carre (2), Ben Thomas, Tomos Williams (2) and James Botham (2) ensured a packed Arms Park wouldn’t witness a humdinger.

They were followed over in the second half by Kieron Assiratti before the Dragons at least stemmed the flow and hunted a bonus, regardless of whether it was deserved.

Harri Keddie added to his first-half effort then a driving lineout earned a penalty try but a fourth didn’t come with the last word coming from Cardiff full-back Cam Winnett.

South Wales Argus: Dragons winger Ashton Hewitt is smashed into touch in CardiffDragons winger Ashton Hewitt is smashed into touch in Cardiff (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

There could be no Dragons complaints about this being a pointless trip to the capital.

It was a performance against fiercest rivals that mean there must be questions about futures of all – players and staff – and they simply have to respond on New Year’s Day against the Scarlets in Newport.

The Dragons can point to budgets or travel when hammered in Cork, Dublin or Durban, but not down the road in Cardiff.

This was worse than the 64-3 at Munster when Dean Ryan had lost the camp in 2022 or the 60-3 Rodney Parade defeat to a Glasgow side without their big stars and featuring now darts star Gerwyn Price in 2013.

In these testing times when Welsh professional rugby wants to survive and make it through with four teams, this sort of display in front of an audience on free-to-air television is hugely damaging.

The Dragons made a nightmare start with Rio Dyer penalised from the first box-kick after getting his timing wrong.

That allowed Cardiff to go on the charge in the 22 with Wales loosehead Carre barged over from close range for a third-minute try that Tinus De Beer converted.

The Dragons responded well and it was level-pegging after eight minutes thanks to a line break by centre Aneurin Owen, who stayed calm to put Keddie under the posts. Cai Evans added the extras.

Yet Cardiff then moved into a commanding lead after a quarter by showing a cutting edge to exploit errors from the visitors.

Carre powered over after an aerial bomb wasn’t dealt with and then it was 21-7 when centre Ben Thomas ran through Wales flanker Taine Basham.

The Dragons kicked a penalty to the corner in a bid to get back into the game but instead it turned into a 26-7 lead when the drive went nowhere and centre Steff Hughes knocked on.

Cardiff booted clear, Ashton Hewitt unwisely opted to run, was turned over and lock Teddy Williams went on the rampage before popping up for Tomos Williams to get the bonus-point score inside a quarter.

South Wales Argus: EASY: Ben Thomas bashed over Dragons flanker Taine Basham on his way to the lineEASY: Ben Thomas bashed over Dragons flanker Taine Basham on his way to the line (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

A shambolic start got worse with fit-again James Botham going over for number five from close-range, the conversion making it 33-7, then a sixth from a lineout move on the half hour for 38-7.

A seventh followed when a line break by centre Rey Lee-Lo was finished off by Tomos Williams after the defence went AWOL again for a 45-7 lead.

The Dragons were forced into a change with captain Hughes replaced by Jared Rosser then there were three more during the break with fly-half Will Reed, lock Sean Lonsdale and flanker Dan Lydiate on for Jordan Williams, Joe Davies and Basham.

Yet the half-century was up eight minutes after the resumption when Kieron Assiratti gathered an offload inside the 22 and went charging over with glee. De Beer was denied two more points when the shot clock, thankfully, expired.

The game was long gone but the Dragons were hunting a four-try bonus when Keddie darted over at a close-range ruck for his second after 51 minutes, Evans converting to make it 50-14.

That was followed by a penalty try, and a yellow card for replacement prop Rhys Litterick, after a Dragons driving lineout was stopped illegally.

Yet the next try came for Cardiff in the 76th minute when full-back Winnett started and then finished a move after combining with Mason Grady in another defensive shocker.

Cardiff: tries – R Carre (2), B Thomas, Tomos Williams (2), J Botham (2), K Assiratti, C Winnett; conversions – T De Beer (5).

Dragons: Jordan Williams (Will Reed 40); Rio Dyer, Steff Hughes (captain, Jared Rosser 31), Aneurin Owen, Ashton Hewitt; Cai Evans, Rhodri Williams (Dane Blacker 49); Rhodri Jones (Aki Seiuli 65), Bradley Roberts (James Benjamin 49), Lloyd Fairbrother (Leon Brown 49), Joe Davies (Sean Lonsdale 40), George Nott, Harri Keddie, Taine Basham (Dan Lydiate 40), Aaron Wainwright.

Scorers: tries – Keddie (2), penalty; conversions – C Evans (2).

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales).

Attendance: 12,000.