THE Dragons will be seeing red after imploding at the Stade Aime Giral to blow a golden chance for victory in Perpignan in the European Challenge Cup.

The Rodney Parade side wasted countless opportunities to get their campaign off to a winning start and paid the price for their lack of a cutting edge when beaten 22-16.

Perpignan were rudderless and 9-0 down but rallied to score three tries before a Jamie Roberts effort at least gained a bonus for the Dragons.

However, they will know that they had more than enough chances to win an error-strewn game, and boss Dean Ryan will be raging that a high tackle on Elliot Dee not only led to the departure of the Wales hooker because of a head injury but only cost the hosts a man for 10 minutes.

Seilala Lam was shown yellow by English referee Christophe Ridley when it could easily have been a red card.

The Dragons should still have taken the spoils against a side who are battling relegation in the Top 14 and now have no margin for error in Friday’s home encounter with heavyweights Lyon, who are fourth and started the tournament with victory against Gloucester.

Ryan’s men head to Treviso to face Benetton in January and face a battle to stay alive for the visit of the Cherry and Whites in April.

South Wales Argus: CLOSE: Rio Dyer is denied in the cornerCLOSE: Rio Dyer is denied in the corner

The Dragons made a fine start and were agonisingly close to the opening try after four minutes when the ball was worked wide to Rio Dyer only for the winger to be denied by the Perpignan cover as he dived for the line.

Sam Davies got them on the scoreboard from the tee and, after some resolute defence against the big French side, he doubled the lead on 21 minutes.

Perpignan were poor and were fortunate to escape on the stroke of half-time when Lam was shown yellow for a high tackle on Dee.

The hooker flew into his opposite number and could easily have seen red, with the Dragons' frustration compounded when they then lost an attacking lineout opportunity.

Dee was off for an HIA and that led to a chance for James Benjamin, the back rower who has been converted to the front row. It was a tough evening for the mobile forward at the set piece.

The Dragons led 6-0 at the break and were over the line two minutes after the restart when Jordan Olowofela dotted down following a burst by prop Aki Seiuli.

However, the try was chalked off for a knock-on by Tavis Knoyle in the build-up after a deliberate knock-on by Nino Seguela, which led to another Perpignan yellow.

The Dragons went to the corner and won the ball, only to be turned over as they got close to the line.

They stayed on the front foot and were close again after an attack that featured Taine Basham prominently ended with Fiji tighthead Mesake Doge going over only for there not to be a clear view of a grounding.

The Dragons should have been clear but settled for a third Davies penalty after 51 minutes after a Perpignan neck roll at the breakdown on dangerman Basham.

The hosts then won a scrum penalty and went to the corner for a driving lineout that was stopped illegally by Knoyle, with referee Ridley then awarding a penalty try.

Suddenly the hosts’ tails were up and a 50:22 set up another driving lineout that ended with scrum-half Tom Echochard somehow having a run-in down the blindside.

Admittedly the Dragons were down to 14 but it was all too easy and the conversion made it 14-9 with 17 minutes to go.

The wheels had come off and missed tackles led to a line break that was followed by a yellow card for Adam Warren for a breakdown offence.

A penalty stretched the lead and then try numero trois was a cracker with sharp handling leading to replacement back Baptiste Plana going over to make it 22-9.

Suddenly the Dragons were faced by a pointless trip to France but it was game on again when the 14-man Dragons struck in the 73rd minute, taking a quick tap penalty before Jamie Roberts cut a trademark line to power over.

Davies converted and it was 22-16 only for another wayward lineout to waste a chance to strike again in the 22.

It summed up their night and after a poor start to the United Rugby Championship the Dragons are up against it in Europe.

Perpignan scorers: tries - penalty, Ecochard, Plana; conversion - Ecochard; penalty - Ecochard

Dragons scorers: try – J Roberts; conversion – S Davies; penalties – S Davies (3)