CAPTAIN Steff Hughes is excited by the prospect of the Dragons young guns getting more opportunities in the United Rugby Championship run-in.

The Rodney Parade club have the next two weekends off while the Six Nations finishes, then return for seven more games in the league.

They are playing to avoid URC bottom spot in a four-team scrap with the Sharks, currently propping up the table, Zebre Parma and the Scarlets.

They host the Italians and finish the campaign against their Welsh rivals at Cardiff City Stadium for the Judgement Day double-header.

Head coach Dai Flanagan has pledged to use the run-in to blood young talent and at Ulster last weekend gave more action to wing/full-back Ewan Rosser, centre Harri Ackerman, hooker Brodie Coghlan, lock Barny Langton-Cryer and tighthead Luke Yendle, plus another pair of novices.

β€œWe had Joe Westwood with his first start on the wing who was excellent, Huw Anderson gets his first game for the club,” said centre Hughes.

β€œHaving these young boys having exposure and playing out here is going to be brilliant for us as a club moving forward.

β€œWe’re really excited to get back to Rodney Parade now and hopefully put in a couple of great performances and win at home.”

Those fixtures are against the Bulls and Zebre with the Dragons hunting a first win since edging out the Scarlets in Newport on New Year’s Day.

They did show spirit in Belfast to record a first bonus-point on the road in the URC this season thanks to a penalty try at the death after earlier scores by hookers James Benjamin and Coghlan either side of lock Matthew Screech’s close-range finish.

"I thought our effort was really good. I thought we stuck in the fight really well,” said Hughes.

β€œThere were a couple of moments where if we had packed it in it would have been a very different score line.

β€œOur effort was great, and I thought we attacked well when we did, it was just a couple of critical moments where we could be a bit more rugby smart and put pressure back on Ulster.

South Wales Argus: Captain Steff Hughes leads the Dragons off at UlsterCaptain Steff Hughes leads the Dragons off at Ulster (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

β€œWe absorbed a little bit too much pressure in that middle third and consequently they scored a couple more tries than we would have liked.

β€œI’m proud of the four tries and the bonus point. It’s a tough place to come and play so we’re pleased to come away with something.

β€œWe spoke at half-time and the messages from the coaches was keep being brave to play,” he added.

β€œOur attacking shape was working well when we kept the ball. The focus was on doing more of that and causing Ulster to defend a little bit more.

β€œThere are still some areas of growth for us, in terms of managing the game at critical points, but it is important for us to come away with something."