DRAGONS boss Dai Flanagan criticised his side’s lack of care in the first half of their United Rugby Championship hammering at Benetton.

The Italians boosted their play-off hopes with a 36-19 win in Treviso that should have been even more convincing.

Benetton bombed a number of chances in the first half but still led 19-0 at the break thanks to tries by Rhyno Smith, Gianmarco Lucchesi and Andy Uren.

The Dragons gave themselves hope with a pair of interception tries by wing Jared Rosser and scrum-half Dane Blacker, sandwiching a Onisi Ratave score, to trail 24-12.

That’s how it stayed until the closing stages when the hosts secured the spoils with their fifth and sixth tries through Edoardo Iachizzi and Michele Lamaro.

A line break by Wales wing Rio Dyer led to a run-in for scrum-half Che Hope and the Dragons had a chance of a four-try bonus with the clock in the red only for fly-half Will Reed to miss touch with a penalty.

South Wales Argus: Dragons boss Dai FlanaganDragons boss Dai Flanagan (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“I’m bitterly disappointed,” said Flanagan. “Our error rate was through the roof and our competitiveness didn’t exist first half.

“There are errors in our game that allow the game to go away from us and moments in matches that we are not executing on.

“We need to be better and we need to start better. Then, when we have momentum swings, we have got a chance.

“We’ve got to look at ourselves. It was an opportunity missed.”

Benetton, who rang the changes after their European quarter-final win against Connacht, should have been out of sight in the first half after creating chances galore.

“We looked like we cared for each other a bit more second half and that is disappointing,” said Flanagan.

“Coming away from home you have got to start well and 19-0 at the break you are always chasing it.

“We got to 24-12 and are in their 22 and then one kick and we are on our own five-metre line. That is really frustrating.”

The Dragons now prepare to welcome Connacht to Newport on Saturday, a fixture that is followed by another home encounter against the Stormers.

“We are proud to play in front of our people. We care a lot for the game when we are at Rodney Parade and we can’t wait to get back out there,” said Flanagan.

“It’s been tough on the road this year. We haven’t been great but we have been good at home. We are four from six, and we want to go five from seven and give our fans something to cheer about.”