THE Dragons kept going until the end at Ulster to ensure they left Belfast with something to show for their efforts.

The Rodney Parade club’s long wait for a win outside Wales in the United Rugby Championship goes on after a 49-26 defeat at Ravenhill.

They haven’t won in Ireland, Scotland, Italy or South Africa since October, 2021 and it was clear the streak wouldn’t be ending when Ulster had their four-try bonus before half-time.

However, the Dragons battled hard and scored tries from hookers James Benjamin and Brodie Coghlan either side of an effort by Matthew Screech.

They kicked to the corner in the 79th minute and the backs joined the pack to earn a penalty try.

It was the Dragons’ first four-try bonus point of the 2023/24 URC and meant that they had something to show for their efforts in a league away game for the first time in the campaign.

That could prove to be crucial in the four-team scrap with the Sharks, Zebre Parma and Scarlets to avoid finishing bottom of the table.

They host the Italians at the end of the month in what is a must-win encounter then take on their Welsh rivals on the last day of the season at Cardiff City Stadium.

Here are some talking points from the clash in Belfast…

South Wales Argus: OPENER: The Dragons scored through James Benjamin thanks to a driving lineoutOPENER: The Dragons scored through James Benjamin thanks to a driving lineout (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


The Dragons reaped the rewards of training ground graft to put the squeeze on through their driving lineout.

It led to Benjamin’s score and the penalty try plus it put the pressure on in the build-up to the other two efforts.

The Dragons would love to be scoring more tries through dashing and daring rugby – they made just two clean breaks – but they did show some patience with several multi-phase attacks that ended in penalties, and that will please boss Dai Flanagan.

The head coach will also be delighted that heads didn't drop and the players kept fighting until the end for their point.


The defensive stats made for horrible reading after the defeat in Glasgow a fortnight earlier; at Scotstoun they had a tackle success of 79 per cent after missed 39 tackles.

While they shipped seven tries in Belfast, the defensive effort was much improved and the stats back that up.

They had a tackle success rate of 94 per cent with 134 tackles made and just nine missed.

There was still the occasional lapse but the intent in defence was good with players showing personal pride in making their hits.

They might have conceded nine points more at Ulster than they did at Glasgow but that was only because the Warriors were a lot more wasteful.

South Wales Argus: DYNAMIC: Taine Basham on the charge for the DragonsDYNAMIC: Taine Basham on the charge for the Dragons (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


Taine Basham has had a frustrating few months after being dropped because of a poor showing at Cardiff on Boxing Day and then being a fringe figure with Wales in the Six Nations.

He was released for game time by Warren Gatland and he put in a solid showing at Ravenhill to press his claims for action against France and Italy.

Basham provided the Dragons with a much-needed carrying option, going on seven charges, and was busy throughout.

The 24-year-old from Talywain hasn’t hit the heights this season on his return from the World Cup but is a special talent.

Fingers crossed the Dragons will see the best of him in the run-in… and secure a new deal with the dynamic forward.

South Wales Argus: DEBUT: Huw Anderson came off the bench for the Dragons at UlsterDEBUT: Huw Anderson came off the bench for the Dragons at Ulster (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


The Dragons have now used 49 players this season and there was plenty of young talent on the field in Belfast.

Full-back Huw Anderson came on for a debut, Joe Westwood made his first start at wing and there were more appearances for full-back/wing Ewan Rosser, hooker Coghlan, tighthead Luke Yendle, lock Barny Langton-Cryer and centre Harri Ackerman.

The Dragons put in a spirited performance and the senior figures turned up and showed leadership, unlike at Glasgow.

That means it will have been a good learning experience for the promising prospects, with more opportunities likely to come after the Six Nations.

Ulster scorers: tries - Addison, Lowry (2), Sheridan, McCann (2), Timoney; conversions – Cooney (7).

Dragons: E Rosser; Westwood (Anderson 66), Hughes, Owen (Ackerman 48), Baldwin; Reed, Blacker (Bertranou 52); Martinez (Seiuli 52), Benjamin (Coghlan 58), Coleman (Yendle 52), Lonsdale, Screech, Lydiate, Taylor (Langton-Cryer 19, Nott 66), Basham.

Scorers: tries – Benjamin, Screech, Coghlan, penalty; conversions – Reed (2).