FOR Hallam Amos it was Wasps in Wycombe, for Leon Brown it was Leicester at a packed Welford Road, for Tyler Morgan it was the Scarlets in Llanelli. Three internationals who dipped their toe into senior rugby in Anglo-Welsh Cup encounters.

It is undoubtedly a tournament with a slightly strange format and differing emphasis on the development aspect of a development competition, but it is serving its purpose for the Dragons.

Last weekend was a chastening one for the Welsh regions; all four suffering heavy losses against English opposition preparing for a return to Aviva Premiership action this weekend.

The Scarlets suffered a 40-0 home hammering by Exeter, Cardiff Blues were thrashed 57-0 at Newcastle and the Ospreys lost 36-12 to Wasps in Swansea.

I can’t write about those losses with any authority but having been at Franklin’s Gardens to watch the Dragons go down 41-7 I can urge against being reactionary on the sight of the scoreline.

It was an occasion that worked well for both teams; Northampton got a win to head into a league clash against Newcastle with a bounce and a few selection headaches and the Dragons exposed plenty of promising talent to a level they have previously only been told about.

It’s dangerous to say that a game is entirely about the performance rather than the result but it would have taken the most freakish of 80 minutes for there to be an away winner in the East Midlands.

The Saints XV was guided by former England fly-half Stephen Myler, a man with 314 Northampton appearances to his name before Saturday.

The visitors’ starting line-up had just 418 Dragons appearances between them, 191 coming from the second row partnership of Matthew Screech and Rynard Landman.

Academy full-back Joe Goodchild, on-loan Ospreys centre Joe Thomas and RGC 1404 number eight Huw Worthington were making debuts for the region while fly-half Arwel Robson and flanker Ben Roach made their first starts.

Wing Jared Rosser and impressive blindside Aaron Wainwright made their Dragons debuts in September and October respectively while prop Luke Garrett and hooker Liam Belcher are green for front-rowers.

The Dragons’ replacements included 18-year-old flanker Lennon Greggains and 19-year-old scrum-half Owain Leonard while the Saints brought on full England internationals Ben Foden, Teimana Harrison and Paul Hill.

That contrast in experience may make some ponder what the point of the contest was. I argue this is EXACTLY the point of the contest for the Dragons.

Bernard Jackman and his management team at the back of the Church’s Stand didn’t go there expecting to observe their young charges cause an upset, they wanted them to show spirit and experience moments to learn from.

They were sent out to give it their all but also to soak it all up. They would have returned to their Ystrad Mynach training base on Monday morning with new drive and awareness about what it will take to reach the levels that Amos, Brown, Morgan, Ashton Hewitt (Scarlets, 2013), James Benjamin (Wasp, 2013) and Jack Dixon (Wasps, 2011) now hit.

The Dragons made it to the semi-finals of the Anglo-Welsh Cup in 2011 but now it’s not really about qualification but instead stopping their burgeoning talent from saying, “I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger”.

The tournament is one that perhaps leads to some prospects being flung in before they are ready, that has its risks but Welford Road last November shows the rewards.

Brown was given a bit of a going-over when he came on for the struggling Craig Mitchell in the first half to face legendary Argentina loosehead Marcos Ayerza and then the Tigers brought on England’s Ellis Genge.

The young Dragon received a yellow card on his first senior appearance but learnt plenty and showed enough to be given the 3 jersey by boss Kingsley Jones for the following week’s derby with the Scarlets.

Brown’s talent has never been in doubt, and his coaches at Cross Keys knew they were helping at future international from the first moment he was sent to Pandy Park by the Dragons academy, but the speed of his rise since those outings in November will have shocked even his biggest cheerleaders.

The 21-year-old from Maesglas is now an international and his ascent shows the value of giving burgeoning talent an opportunity, even if most will take a fair bit longer than 364 days to go from regional rugby to the Test scene.

The Anglo-Welsh presents that chance without the added pressure of Guinness PRO14 or European action; better to learn some harsh lessons when many eyes are focused on Principality Stadium, Twickenham, Murrayfield and the Aviva Stadium.

More young talent will get a crack this weekend with scrum-half Dan Babos and loosehead Josh Reynolds poised for debuts against the Scarlets while wing Rio Dyer, a travelling reserve in Northampton, and Taine Basham could feature after catching the eye.

Tomorrow evening’s clash with the west Walians won’t quite have the same intensity as the fixture with a strong Saints XV but the New Year brings valuable encounters with Worcester and Saracens.

All these games are so useful in bridging the massive gap from the Principality Premiership to regional rugby, especially with the British & Irish Cup on the way out.

Perhaps there needs to be a bit of tinkering – it’d help to align the Premiership and PRO14 while perhaps a limit on the number of over-23s would be worth exploring – but let’s not be too hasty.

Smallest of tastes can be priceless for young prospects - ask Amos, Brown, and Morgan - and the much-maligned Anglo-Welsh Cup is still providing that.