AN inexperienced team ended up being overpowered in Dublin last weekend and it will be a surprise if there isn’t a repeat north of the border on Saturday night.

The Dragons travel to Belfast to face Ulster in the United Rugby Championship and they are even bigger underdogs than Wales were against Ireland.

They are without their Six Nations contingent – although they will be hoping back rower Taine Basham is released for game time – and have a hefty injury list.

History shows that Dai Flanagan’s men would be up against it even if they were fully-loaded.

The Dragons have won just twice in 19 games at Ravenhill – 16-14 in 2008 and 28-21 in 2004. They have lost their last 11 games in Belfast since a 22-22 draw in 2010.

The Rodney Parade club have not won a game outside of Wales in the URC since their triumph against Connacht in Galway in October, 2021, a win that led to Dean Ryan getting what turned out to be a costly contract extension.

Ulster are having a season to forget themselves but few are predicting the Dragons to return from Belfast with anything.

South Wales Argus: Stafford McDowall of Glasgow Warriors breaks through to score against the DragonsStafford McDowall of Glasgow Warriors breaks through to score against the Dragons (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

However, it is expected that they will put in a better display than last time out in Glasgow. The Dragons lost 40-7 and it would have been a lot worse at Scotstoun Stadium had the Warriors been more clinical.

Flangan’s men are in a four-way scrap to avoid being the URC’s worst side with the Sharks currently propping up the pile.

The South Africans are level on points with the Dragons on 10 with the Scarlets on 12 and Zebre on 13.

The Dragons, who were knocked out of Europe in the Challenge Cup group stages, have eight games left this season and will look to make strides as Flanagan builds towards 2024/25.

The URC’s official stats show that there is plenty of room for improvement…

South Wales Argus: SCORE: Aaron Wainwright powered over for the Dragons against the ScarletsSCORE: Aaron Wainwright powered over for the Dragons against the Scarlets (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


The Dragons are ranked last in the URC for points scored (149), tries (17) and defenders beaten (124).

They are 15th for metres gained (2,841) while they are 13th for clean breaks (48) and 11th for offloads (61).

Offloads is the only big change from last season, when they finished sixth in the URC with a final tally of 163.


The Dragons have made the 10th biggest total of tackles made (1,410) but they are top of the table for tackles missed (223) with the worst success rate in the URC (84 per cent).

They are 11th for turnovers won (62) and third for turnovers lost (140).

Last season's tackle success rate was 87 per cent (10th)


The Dragons have kicked the ball out of hand 255 times - the fourth biggest tally in the league in what has been a clear policy shift.

They are seventh for kick metres (7,236), 10th for kicks retained (33) and three of their tries have come from kicks.

Last season the Dragons were 12th for kicks (382), 15th for kicks retained (42) and scored just two tries from kicks.


The Dragons are ranked 13th for penalties conceded (103) and are 15th for scrum offences (30), 10th for lineout offences (5).

They are third for yellow cards (Rhodri Williams, Chris Coleman, Bradley Roberts, Matthew Screech) and 10th for reds (Taine Basham versus Leinster).

Last season they were seventh for penalties conceded (198) and ranked last for scrum offences (66).

South Wales Argus: George Nott climbs high at the lineout for the Dragons against CardiffGeorge Nott climbs high at the lineout for the Dragons against Cardiff (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


Finally a good statistic! The Dragons are fifth in the URC for lineout success (86 per cent).

They are ninth for lineouts won (119) and 12th for lineouts lost (18), while they are ninth for lineout steals (9).

The Dragons are 14th for scrums won (87 per cent) are eighth for scrum penalties won (13).