THE Dragons will be counting down the days until the Ospreys leave the Stadium after another miserable trip west.

The Rodney Parade club failed to add to their solitary 2010 triumph at the venue when Toby Booth’s side kept alive their slim United Rugby Championship play-off hopes.

The Dragons led for much of the first half but paid the price for a pair of yellow cards.

Wales number eight Aaron Wainwright was sent to the sin bin for a lineout offence and that was followed by hooker Dewi Lake barging over.

Dragons scrum-half Dane Blacker then joined him for slapping the ball out of the hands of acting scrum-half Justin Tipuric from an offside position.

Opposite number Reuben Morgan-Williams promptly went over from a well-worked lineout move crafted on the training ground and then, soon after the restart with Wainwright back, Lake went over again.

Fly-half Will Reed scored a nicely-worked try to give the Dragons hope but the Ospreys got their bonus score through centre Keiran Williams at the back of a poor lineout.

Dai Flanagan’s men had their chances to make it a nervy finish but failed to take them and endured another pointless away day in the URC.

Perhaps the Ospreys' switch to a smaller venue in Bridgend, where the Dragons won in 2021, or St Helen's will provide some more luck.

South Wales Argus: OPENER: Dewi Lake crashed over from close range for the OspreysOPENER: Dewi Lake crashed over from close range for the Ospreys (Image: Huw Evans Agency) 


Sadly, not even the Scarlets’ shocking season could save the Dragons from retaining their frequent tag as Wales’ worst side.

They could still finish second in the Welsh Shield – which is done on results between the pro quartet – but that is just a gimmick.

The Dragons are now six points back on the Scarlets and not even a repeat of last year’s Judgement Day upset would see them leapfrog the men from Llanelli.

That is a missed opportunity, even if there are well-documented reasons for the Rodney Parade club struggling even more than usual (such as running without a defence coach all year to save money).

Once again, the Dragons will head into a season needing to change the record.

South Wales Argus: POWER: The Ospreys won a scrum penalty and then drove over through Dewi LakePOWER: The Ospreys won a scrum penalty and then drove over through Dewi Lake (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


This was like a flashback with the Dragons having a torrid time at the scrum.

By and large, they have been pretty stead at the set piece this season, even if the stats rank their scrum as one of the worst in the URC.

They haven’t been on roller-skates too often and they have mixed it against some pretty hefty packs.

That wasn’t the case in Swansea despite the Dragons fielding four of their strongest tight five (with tightheads Lloyd Fairbrother and Leon Brown absent).

The Dragons got on the wrong side of referee Ben Breakspear in that area and then allowed the Ospreys to keep working them over.

Flanagan’s men conceded 20 penalties and there is just no way that a side can win a game with a tally that high.

South Wales Argus: STRUGGLE: Scrum-half Dane Blacker has had a tough time in his first season at the DragonsSTRUGGLE: Scrum-half Dane Blacker has had a tough time in his first season at the Dragons (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


Blacker’s yellow card was a low moment in a poor first year at Rodney Parade.

The scrum-half was an exciting signing from the Scarlets, a 9 with the ability to push on after being on the fringes of the Wales squad, and being an unused substitute against Georgia in 2022.

It just hasn’t happened for him.

Flanagan has tried to play him into form, in part through necessity with Gonzalo Bertranou’s injury record and the wise plan to just give Che Hope and Morgan Lloyd plenty of Premiership minutes.

With Rhodri Williams struggling with a hip problem, there is an argument for the young duo, who racked up 20 and 19 appearances for Newport and Pontypool, to share the action at the Cardiff City Judgement Day.

That would sting Blacker after he left the Scarlets last summer but he could have few complaints.

His sin-binning in Swansea was ridiculous and the Dragons coaching staff had a close view of it after making their way down to the dugout from their bench on the back row of the stand in the 40th minute.

Fair play to the Ospreys, they kept playing when they could have just won a lineout on their 22, played the clock and booted it out for a 7-6 lead.

Instead, they drove and then Blacker played into their hands, just when Wainwright was poised to return.

The Ospreys were the better side yet 12 of their points came against 14 men and seven against 13.

South Wales Argus: PROMISING: Joe Westwood has shown glimpses of talent for the DragonsPROMISING: Joe Westwood has shown glimpses of talent for the Dragons (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


Joe Westwood has made eight appearances for the Dragons this season, six of them off the bench, one at wing and a solitary outing in his main position of outside centre against the Bulls.

This 22-minute appearance was the most impressive display yet from the promising 20-year-old back.

Westwood has serious potential and midfield could be a real area of strength next season with Harri Ackerman back from a broken leg, Aneurin Owen, Steff Hughes and new boy Harry Wilson.

The beauty is that they have different qualities and Westwood looks to be an all-rounder; he has the physical attributes but, having come though age-grade rugby as a fly-half/full-back, isn’t just a brute and has footballing skills.

His line break for the chance that was knocked on by Sean Lonsdale in the 22 was a cracker – Westwood recognised the blitz out wide, powered through a gap and shipped on to Blacker.

With the Dragons missing Angus O’Brien and Cai Evans, Westwood also provided a reminder of his younger days in the warm-up when he joined Reed in doing some goal-kicking.

The centre, who slotted a Welsh Schools and Colleges League final win from the tee for Coleg Gwent four years ago, is yet to truly show his big boot on the professional stage.

After helping Newport finish as runners-up in the Premiership, Westwood will be a bona fide senior centre option next season.