IT’S something of a rites of passage for Dragons coaches to be accused of selecting their side with the help of a tombola.

Bernard Jackman has avoided that particular accusation in rounds one to three of the Guinness PRO14 after naming a pretty settled XV against Leinster, Edinburgh and Connacht.

He did his homework and watched plenty of footage before landing the job at Rodney Parade then did an audit of all areas while getting his feet under the desk, but it’s only now that he will truly understand what it’s like to be Dragons boss as he enjoys a first taste of selection angst as some sections of support question calls.

Jackman will have a wry smile. He will hope that he is in a position to be accused of being a tinkerman in weeks and months to come.

The head coach will name a much-changed side when the team to face Ulster in Belfast is named at midday.

It’s understandable and the reasons are twofold – the management need to give some players a breather ahead of what is a much more winnable match against Southern Kings in round five and they also need to give others a fair crack.

The selection is boxing clever – the Dragons have just one win in Belfast to their name, in 2008, and trips over the Irish Sea have traditionally been the stuff of nightmare – but it also has its risks.

A drubbing will do nobody any good, even if the risks are made clear before Welsh official Dan Jones blows his whistle for the first time.

The rhetoric has been predictable this week – chance to shine, jerseys up for grabs etcetera – but there is still the impression of the Dragons vulnerable in front of a Ravenhill crowd wanting to be entertained like Roman emperors at the Colosseum.

It’s not easy to just brush off a heavy defeat so those that take to the field in Belfast have a vital role to play in helping securing the spoils against the Kings, even if their chances of featuring on the return to Newport are slim.

The situation is similar to a Lions tour where the Test team can be galvanised or sapped by the exploits of so-called ‘dirt trackers’.

If the Dragons can pick up where they left off against Connacht and give Ulster a bloody nose, or even scrape a bonus point, then they will be in good shape as they prepare for a first encounter with South African opposition.

And Jackman is absolutely desperate for a handful of his players to stand tall in Belfast to expand the pool of those that he can trust.

We are frequently told that it’s a 23-man game with Eddie Jones championing England’s “finishers” but so far the Dragons head coach has considered a Mastermind approach – they’ve started, so they’ll finish.

History has been rewritten slightly in the aftermath of the excellent Connacht victory because of the relief of finally enjoying a win after 14 losses on the spin.

Just as the doom and gloom at the Liberty Stadium is a little OTT, it’s not suddenly all sunshine and light at Rodney Parade.

But Jackman won’t be papering over any cracks and will know that his side were creaking for large parts of a second half that had most of us clock-watching.

Props Brok Harris and Leon Brown played 75 minutes and hooker Elliot Dee was on until 78 while the backs on the bench only really came on through necessity rather than being able to add real oomph.

The Dragons were good value for their win but had Connacht scored from a driving lineout around the hour mark then they would have been favourites to win.

To be honest they could even have stolen it had they gone over with five minutes left thanks to a combination of home nerves and away momentum.

At the risk of being churlish after such a good win and encouraging performance in a terrific atmosphere, it should be pointed out that the Dragons beat Connacht in Newport last season and that they also got a losing bonus point up in Edinburgh last April.

The victory has importantly provided some breathing space and got a gorilla off the Dragons’ back after waiting since January for a success.

But if we are to toast glory with more regularity then Jackman needs to be able to trust in the ability of more of his charges to come off the bench and finish the job.

He need to have the ability to call on his bench with glee as the game approaches the hour rather than sending instructions to get somebody on with reluctance.

When the head coach called out his bench following the loss at Myreside a fortnight ago it was a little harsh after they only trotted onto the field as the clock went into the 70s.

Those that have 1 to 15 on their backs in Northern Ireland this weekend can have no complaints if they fluff their lines and don’t get another crack until the Anglo-Welsh Cup comes around.

This weekend it’s unbeaten Ulster at Ravenhill (sorry, the Kingspan), so nobody is expecting an end to a PRO14 away losing streak that goes back to Treviso in March, 2015.

But the minimum requirement is that a raft of Dragons return to Wales with their reputations enhanced in the eyes of Jackman.

If any player even looks like they are set to raise the white flag then they won’t need to clean their boots for the Kings a week on Saturday.