DRAGONS boss Dai Flanagan lamented another missed European opportunity after being dumped out of the Challenge Cup by the Sharks.

The Rodney Parade club headed into their home clash with the South Africans knowing that victory would earn a last-16 tie in Newport.

However, they were overpowered 29-9 by the Sharks, who scored 17 points in the final quarter to earn top seeding in the tournament and knockout rugby in Durban.

The Dragons started the Challenge Cup with a bonus-point win against Oyonnax but conceded a last-gasp winner at Pau then were edged out 20-17 by Zebre in Parma.

“We didn’t lose it against the Sharks,” said head coach Flanagan. “Pau away we were leading in the last minute and Zebre away we were three points behind and had the ball.

“We’ve lost it over time and that probably sums us up this season. We have played well in patches and then collapse.”

South Wales Argus: CLINCHER: The Dragons secure their win through lock Gerbrandt GroblerCLINCHER: The Dragons secure their win through lock Gerbrandt Grobler (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

The Dragons bossed the first half but only managed a pair of Cai Evans penalties then the Sharks struck with a quickfire double by Springboks Jaden Hendrikse and Ox Nche.

It was 12-9 on the hour but then Gerbrandt Grobler and Le Roux Roets scored from the power game then Werner Kok exploited an error from Evans with the clock in the red.

“It was disappointing again. It was probably the same as last week, for 25 to 30 minutes we were superb into the wind and then momentum turns and we don’t regather it,” said Flanagan.

“We had a phase in that second half when we drove a maul up the touchline and I thought we had learned, that was what we spoke about in the week about how to regain momentum.

“We kicked a penalty from it but then we didn’t get back in the game. They managed the 22s really well with their power game and we gave them too many ins with silly penalties.”

The Dragons were 3-0 up when they thought wing Jared Rosser had scored a try but it was chalked off after TMO intervention after Evans had added the conversion.

The speedster burst clear from his 22, kicked ahead but rushed the grounding to be denied by a knock-on.

It was almost a carbon copy of Rosser’s failure to finish in the narrow derby defeat in round two of the United Rugby Championship.

“It was massive and exactly the same as Cardiff at home. It changes the mood, the optimism and how you go into the next play,” lamented Flanagan.

“Jared works very hard and will get over it. It was identical to Cardiff, he wants to score tries and is the fifth top scorer in the region’s history.

“Evolving that part of his game is huge, because those are easier than the tries that he converts.”

The Dragons now have a break for the start of the Six Nations with a trip to Glasgow on Saturday, February 17.