THE Dragons couldn’t deliver a win for the supporters on their return to Rodney Parade after the Ospreys won a derby cracker with a stirring second half performance.

The United Rugby Championship opener went the way of the west Walians in Newport after they turned a 16-10 half-time deficit into a 27-23 win.

The Dragons deservedly led at the break courtesy of full-back Josh Lewis’ early try and 11 points from the boot of Sam Davies.

However, the penalty count swung and the hosts were a little more passive than they had been in the first half.

They were hit by 17 unanswered point to be chasing the game in the final quarter before Rhodri Williams’ try with three minutes to go gave them a shot at a miracle.

Alas, they couldn’t conjure one to mean the Dragons’ fans returned to watch the same outcome as 569 days earlier when Benetton left Newport with the spoils in March 2020.

The consolation for those on the terrace was that they finally got to indulge in one of their favourite pastimes – yelling their frustration at a referee after Sam Grove-White gave a scrum penalty at the death to end hopes of a comeback.

South Wales Argus:

It was a defeat for the Dragons but there was plenty to admire about the display with new props Seiuli and Doge showing up well either side of Ellis Shipp against an all-Wales Ospreys front row.

Lock Will Rowlands added the bulk that the Dragons have been after for years while Ollie Griffiths was a menace as usual, with and without the ball, from openside flanker.

Try-scorer Josh Lewis backed up the decision to field him at full-back with an assured performance; he was calm under the high ball, excellent with the boot (with the first 50:22) and generally spot-on with his decision-making.

There is also plenty to work on and things don’t get any easier with Leinster next up in Newport next Sunday.

Boss Dean Ryan gave debuts to five of his summer signings – on-loan Leicester wing Jordan Olowofela, on-loan Cardiff scrum-half Lewis Jones, loosehead Seiuli, tighthead Doge and lock Rowlands.

The new boys were enjoying a first run out as Dragons in front of supporters at the Parade and the same applied for seven others in the matchday squad – wing Jonah Holmes, centre Aneurin Owen, lock Ben Carter and replacements Greg Bateman, Joe Maksymiw, Jamie Roberts and Ioan Davies.

The Ospreys included Wales tighthead Tomas Francis after his arrival from Exeter and fielded Gareth Anscombe at fly-half, a debut after being sidelined since August 2019.

It was the Dragons that started sharply and they hit the front in the fifth minute after a scrum penalty as kicked to the 22.

They hammered away at the line to earn penalty advantage and then Davies nudged through a grubber for Lewis to dot down with the extras added by the fly-half.

The start got better with the Ospreys reduced to 14 men courtesy of a yellow card to Owen Watkin for a dangerous clear-out on Griffiths.

That allowed the Dragons to kick for territory and another offence allowed Davies to make it 10-0.

The Ospreys made light of their numerical disadvantage to cut into the lead when they also kicked a scrum penalty to the 22.

Forward pressure was followed by centre Michael Collins cutting a lovely angle to expose a poor defensive read by captain Ross Moriarty.

South Wales Argus: Will RowlandsWill Rowlands

Anscombe converted and after, Davies responded swiftly with a penalty and a drop goal, knocked over a three-pointer from the tee to make it 16-10 at the break.

The Dragons were good value for the leads against the indisciplined Ospreys and would have been a little disappointed to only be six in front given the penalty count in their favour 9-4.

It was the hosts that got on the wrong side of referee Grove-White first in the second half to allow Anscombe to cut the gap from the tee.

The Ospreys had a spell with a man advantage when a counter by wing Mat Protheroe led to Dragons centre Jack Dixon being sin-binned for killing the ball.

The visitors could have levelled but went for the lead, opting for a scrum and then a lineout from penalties.

It paid off when Collins went over for his second with Anscombe’s conversion making it 20-16 to the Ospreys after 53 minutes.

The visitors were well on top and Ryan responded by bringing on flanker Taine Basham to add energy and produce some big moments.

The Dragons needed them when they fell 27-16 behind on the hour after replacement Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler and Anscombe combined to put Luke Morgan over.

Ryan turned to his bench to try and salvage something with the experienced trio of Rhodri Williams, Roberts and Bateman coming on.

The response came a little later than the Dragons would have hoped but Williams spotted a gap and raced over with Davies’ quick conversion making it 27-23 with three minutes to go.

If they were to secure a remarkable late turnaround then it needed to be from deep but hopes of a strike play were ended by a scrum penalty.

The Dragons had to be content with a losing bonus.

Dragons: J Lewis; J Holmes, J Dixon (J Roberts 62), A Owen, J Olowofela; S Davies, L Jones (R Williams 62); A Seiuli (G Bateman 65), E Shipp (R Hibbard 67), M Doge (C Coleman 72), W Rowlands (J Maksymiw 77), B Carter, R Moriarty (captain), O Griffiths (T Basham 57), A Wainwright.
Scorers: tries – J Lewis, R Williams; conversions – S Davies (2); penalties – S Davies (2); drop goals – S Davies

Ospreys scorers: tries – M Collins (2), L Morgan; conversions – G Anscombe (3); penalties – G Anscombe (2)

Referee: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)