THE Dragons will finish as Wales’ worst side in the United Rugby Championship after paying the price for yellow cards in a 26-13 defeat at the Ospreys.

The home side kept their slim play-off hopes alive with a bonus-point win in Swansea while Dai Flanagan’s men can no longer catch the Scarlets.

The good news is that they are likely to avoid propping up the URC, unless Zebre Parma claim two points at title-chasing Glasgow on final weekend.

However, the Rodney Parade club won’t have a shootout against their rivals from Llanelli to finish at Cardiff City Judgement Day after being hammered at the scrum and whistled off the park in Swansea.

Even then there were chances to make it a nervy finish but they weren't taken.

The Dragons led for most of the first half thanks to a pair of Will Reed penalties but paid the price for the penalties racking up.

That led to Aaron Wainwright being shown yellow for a lineout offence, followed by Dewi Lake’s opening try and then Dane Blacker joined him in the sin bin with the last play after daftly slapping the ball out of acting scrum-half Justin Tipuric’s hands.

The Ospreys struck through Reuben Morgan-Williams after a slick lineout move to lead 14-6 at the break, then again through hooker Lake soon after the restart.

Spells down to 14 men, and briefly 13, had killed the Dragons but they gave themselves hope with a well-worked try for Reed that made it 19-13.

Yet the spoils were secured when powerful centre Keiran Williams crashed over approaching the hour to make it 26-13.

South Wales Argus: STOPPED: Dragons centre Aneurin Owen is tackled at the OspreysSTOPPED: Dragons centre Aneurin Owen is tackled at the Ospreys (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

The Dragons had their chances in the final quarter to at least bag a bonus that would give them hope of overtaking the Ospreys but it was another pointless trip on the road in the URC.

It was a frantic start with the Ospreys testing out full-back Ewan Rosser – and the Wales Sevens speedster coming through his aerial examination – before Reed kicked the Dragons into a fifth-minute lead.

The penalties racked up to allow the home side to put pressure on in the 22 but Wales hooker Elliot Dee came up with a timely jackal and it remained 3-0 after 14 minutes.

The Dragons escaped down the other end and a wasted opportunity, a knock-on in the 22, led to a scrum penalty that Reed slotted to double the lead in the 18th minute.

The Ospreys – who needed a five-point haul – were not interested in pointing to the sticks but Flanagan’s men soaked up pressure well in their 22.

The Dragons were cut open for the first time approaching the half hour and conceded a penalty that led to a final warning and a driving lineout.

Ref Ben Breakspear was given no choice but to show yellow after deeming that Wales number eight Wainwright was in from the side but the seven-strong pack stood firm against the next drive.

Hefty wing Chris Hollis helped out the forwards from the resulting scrum but tighthead Chris Coleman was pinged against Nicky Smith and that led to the pressure continuing in the 22.

The Ospreys were held up over the line after hammering away but got another chance after a penalty that prompted another warning from Mr Breakspear.

A quick tap led to more desperate defence but this time the Ospreys scored, Wales co-captain and hooker Lake powering over for a try that Dan Edwards converted.

The Dragons then made a shocking finish to the half after Reed had done the right thing by drilling a kick into the 22 in the 40th minute, challenging the Ospreys to play out.

They did that by driving the lineout and then Blacker had a moment of madness, slapping the ball out of Tipuric’s hands.

The Ospreys went to the corner with the clock in the red and pulled out a training ground move to set Morgan Morris on the charge down the front.

Reed made his tackle despite the size difference but the number eight passed inside for scrum-half Reuben Morgan-Williams.

The Dragons started the half back to 14 but were soon back under their posts after the Ospreys won a scrum penalty, kicked to the corner and then went over through Lake.

Elliot Dee suffered a worrying injury to his left ankle in the process and soon went off after trying to play on with heavy strapping.

South Wales Argus: HOPE: Will Reed went over for the Dragons at the OspreysHOPE: Will Reed went over for the Dragons at the Ospreys (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

At 19-6, the Dragons’ hopes were almost dead even though the numbers were even… yet they were revived by a well-crafted score in the 53rd minute.

Hollis carried hard from a lineout in the 22, replacement Sio Tomkinson took it on and put Reed under the posts for a try that he converted himself to make it 19-13.

Alas, the killer blow came approaching the hour when a long throw was claimed by Williams and he reached for the line after being tackled just short.

Scrambling defence prevented a fifth try after a Luke Morgan burst in the 65th minute then TMO footage led to a Tomkinson try being chalked off after Rosser scampered down the right but his assist was forward.

A Dragons try would have made things very interesting but there was another missed opportunity with 10 minutes to go when Joe Westwood spotted the blitz to make a line break rather than fling an interception pass.

Blacker was in support but his pass to the supporting Sean Lonsdale was knocked on inside the 22, with greasy conditions not helping.

More chances came and went – the ball slipping out of Ben Carter’s grasp in the 22, Morgan-Williams getting back to cover after a Westwood and Wainwright charge – but they had one last chance with the clock in the red.

A scrum penalty was kicked to the corner but the drive was stopped, the hard carries failed to get momentum and then Harri Deaves clamped onto the ball to ensure there would be no bonus.

Ospreys scorers: tries – Lake (2), Morgan-Williams, K Williams; conversions – Edwards (3).

Dragons: E Rosser; Dyer, S Hughes (captain, Westwood 58), Owen (Tomkinson 51), Hollis; Reed, Blacker (Lloyd 69); R Jones (Martinez 44), Dee (Coghlan 47), Coleman (Arhip 58), Carter, Screech (Lonsdale 65), Keddie (Woodman 44), Basham, Wainwright.

Scorers: try – Reed; conversion – Reed; penalties – Reed (2).

Referee: Ben Breakspear.