IT has been challenging campaign for the Dragons but they have two shots at achieving something they have done just three times in 21 seasons – doubling a Welsh rival.

The Rodney Parade club are in a scrap to avoid finishing bottom of the United Rugby Championship after winning just three games, all in Newport (along with the Challenge Cup success against Oyonnax).

They outplayed the Ospreys 20-5 last November, edged out the Scarlets 13-12 on New Year’s Day thanks to Sam Costelow’s shocking miss from the tee and then beat Zebre Parma 20-13 with a finish that was nervier than it needed to be.

A win over Cardiff remains frustratingly elusive but the western pair both came a cropper at Rodney Parade with the return fixtures to finish the campaign.

The Dragons head to the Stadium, formerly the Liberty, to take on the Ospreys and then end at Cardiff City Stadium on June 1 with a Judgement Day clash with the Scarlets.

If Dai Flanagan can mastermind one victory then he will join Mike Ruddock and Paul Turner as a Dragons boss who has doubled a Welsh rival.

It is a sign of the Dragons’ struggles through the years that they have only enjoyed home AND away triumphs three times in 21 campaigns.

The first was in their inaugural season when they beat Cardiff 25-13 at the Arms Park thanks to tries by flanker Jason Forster, centre Hal Luscombe and full-back Sione Tuipulotu (2) plus five points from the boot of fly-half Craig Warlow.

The double was completed in April, 2004 when the Dragons won 48-25 at Rodney Parade.

South Wales Argus: LEGEND: Former Dragons flanker Jason ForsterLEGEND: Former Dragons flanker Jason Forster (Image: Newsquest)

Forster went over again twice along with centre Andy Marinos, wing Nathan Brew (2) and Percy Montgomery, who also kicked all six conversions and a pair of penalties from outside centre.

It has been performances on the road that have let the Dragons down through the years and they lost at Sardis Road to Celtic Warriors in that first season before sneaking victory in Newport.

They have won just twice in Cardiff, 2003 and 2014, and twice in Llanelli, at Stradey Park in 2007 and Parc y Scarlets in 2022.

The first of those wins – which was during the World Cup – was followed by a 15-13 success on New Year’s Day 2008 thanks to Richard Mustoe’s last-gasp winner. The Scarlets got swift revenge two years ago, winning convincingly in Newport the next week.

Perhaps neutral territory for the Judgement Day finale in what is technically a Scarlets home game will give them a better chance, or maybe they can spring a surprise in Swansea.

The Dragons have beaten the Ospreys in Bridgend in the LV= Cup and in March 2021 romped to a league win at the Brewery Field thanks to doubles by Ashton Hewitt and Jonah Holmes, but only after losing the Parade fixture in the January.

South Wales Argus: Dai Flanagan in action for the Ospreys against the Dragons in 2010Dai Flanagan in action for the Ospreys against the Dragons in 2010 (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

The only time that they have won in Swansea in the league was in October 2010 when inspired by a young Taulupe Faletau for a 21-16 triumph against an Ospreys side featuring Flanagan at fly-half.

The number eight scored a superb try in the first half and scrum-half Wayne Evans went over after the break for Paul Turner’s men.

The Dragons stunned the Magners League champions and then completed a second regional double at Rodney Parade with a superb 32-28 triumph under new boss Darren Edwards.

The Dragons came close to doing the double in 2019/20 when they won at Rodney Parade then, behind closed doors in the first game back during the Covid pandemic, drew 20-20 in Swansea.

After George North had been sent off, Ashton Hewitt went over at the death but Sam Davies’ touchline conversion went agonisingly wide.