THE Dragons’ 2020/21 season finished as it started with a heavy defeat in Dublin to Leinster.

Dean Ryan’s men suffered a 38-7 Rainbow Cup loss to the Guinness PRO14 champions, with combative flanker Ross Moriarty forced off in the first half because of a head injury ahead of Wales summer duty.

Leinster led 19-7 at the break after showing a cutting edge that the Dragons couldn’t match, with their score coming from Sam Davies while the hosts were down to 14.

The hosts got their bonus point soon after the resumption to pretty much secure the spoils and it was a case of the region having to limit the damage while trying to land some punches.

They couldn't do either - although Moriarty's replacement Taine Basham was lively ahead of Test camp - as Leinster ran in six tries on a lovely night.

South Wales Argus: BURST: Rhodri Williams was denied by a superb covering tackleBURST: Rhodri Williams was denied by a superb covering tackle

It was 48 weeks ago that the Dragons squad returned to training in Ystrad Mynach to complete the 2019/20 season.

Those that don’t have international commitments can switch off for a short while to recharge the batteries after the most draining of campaigns.

The Rainbow Cup has ensured a slow, painful ending to the season and a trip to Leinster wouldn’t have been anywhere near the top of Dean Ryan’s wishlist.

The Dragons started their 2020/21 schedule at the Royal Dublin Society when beaten 35-5 by the PRO14 champs.

Their error count - and a spluttering lineout - meant that they were never in position to cause an upset in front of 1,200 Leinster fans.

All eyes, from a Dragons perspective at least, were on the front row with Brok Harris leading the side out on his 143rd and final game.

The 36-year-old loosehead will be very badly missed after he opted to return to South Africa due to the region waiting too long to offer a contract.

There was huge pressure on Aaron Jarvis on the other side with the 35-year-old making his first start since the Champions Cup clash with Wasps in December.

In the absence of Leon Brown and Lloyd Fairbrother, he was meant to be backed up by young Chris Coleman but he pulled out in the warm-up and was replaced by the even more inexperienced Luke Yendle.

South Wales Argus: OFFLOAD: Aneurin Owen keeps the ball aliveOFFLOAD: Aneurin Owen keeps the ball alive

The Dragons had two changes to strike first after kicking penalties to the 22 but failed to take them and Leinster made them pay in the sixth minute.

They did what the visitors couldn’t by getting on the front foot from quick lineout ball before working wing Jimmy O’Brien over in the corner for a sixth-minute try that Ross Byrne converted.

Leinster doubled the lead with a cracker when impressive number eight Caelan Doris carried out of his 22 and then Scott Fardy, Garry Ringrose, Jordan Larmour and Jamieson Gibson-Park combined for Ringrose to go under the posts.

Try number three arrived before 20 minutes had been played when Larmour was worked over down the right by the clinical hosts.

It was looking ominous but the Dragons were given a way back into the game when Ross Moriarty carried hard and there was a head-on-head collision that led to home hooker Ronan Kelleher being yellow-carded.

It took a superb last-ditch tackle by that man Doris to deny Rhodri Williams a try, forcing the scrum-half into losing the ball on the line, but it was 19-7 after 29 minutes.

Leinster, without Kelleher to throw in, lost a lineout in their 22 and pressure ended with Sam Davies strolling in and then converting his own effort.

The Dragons could have reduced the gap even more before the break only to be hindered by a high error count, with a number of frustrating handling mistakes in home territory.

They were made to pay two minutes after the restart with a superb score by highly-promising Leinster lock Ryan Baird who combined majestically with Gibson-Park, pirouetting at one stage to wait for support, to race over for the bonus.

The Dragons had to play with three centres on the field, with Jamie Roberts, Aneurin Owen and Jack Dixon all most comfortable at 12, because of an injury to Josh Lewis.

They dug deep but Leinster struck on the hour through Larmour and after 67 minutes through flanker Scott Penny to make it 38-7.

Thankfully six tries was enough for them and the Dragons can finally put their feet up.

Leinster scorers: tries - J O'Brien, G Ringrose, J Larmour (2), R Baird, S Penny; conversions - R Byrne (4)

Dragons: J Lewis (J Dixon 42); O Jenkins, A Owen, J Roberts, R Dyer (I Davies 16); S Davies, R Williams (captain, G Bertranou 46); B Harris (J Reynolds 59), E Dee (R Hibbard 67), A Jarvis (L Yendle 73), J Davies (J Maksymiw 55), B Carter, H Keddie, O Griffiths, R Moriarty (T Basham 22).

Scorers: try – S Davies; conversion – S Davies

Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)