SHAUN Connor felt the Dragons took a step backwards at Rodney Parade on Friday night as they failed to hit the heights of their performance against Ulster seven days earlier.

Three tries secured a 15-0 win over Enisei-STM in the European Challenge Cup pool stages a week after backs coach Connor saw his side draw 32-32 with the Irish province in the Guinness PRO14.

While playing down speculation linking the Dragons with an audacious move for mercurial Australian fly-half Quade Cooper, Connor said the hosts played into the hands of the Russians.

However, he insisted that there were positives to take from the match.

“It’s probably a little bit of a disappointment after last week’s performance when we feel we played really well,” he said.

“It’s probably a step back tonight but it’s a victory for us and we’ve won one more game than we did last year so we’ll take the positives out of it.

“Enisei came here with a game plan and they played it really well. They tried to take the momentum out of the game and slow it down.

“Unfortunately, we probably played into their hands a little bit by slowing our game down as well.

“We’re very disappointed not to get a bonus point out of it but we go on to Newcastle next week and if we can win that game it sets us up for a double-header against Bordeaux.

“It puts us on 10 points now so 20 is generally a good figure to qualify.

“If we can get two bonus-point wins or three wins that will stand us in good stead.

“There’s disappointment not to get five points out of this game but we’re still in the group and challenging for a knockout place.”

Head coach Bernard Jackman handed European debuts to a clutch of his squad’s younger members, and giving them that experience can only be good as far as Connor is concerned.

“The likes of Dan Babos and Arwel Robson, they won’t be used to that level of game and it was tough for them, it’s probably a lot more physical than they’re used to.

“They probably like a more flowing game but tonight was a battle so hopefully they’ll be better for it.”

And as for those Cooper rumours, Connor said: “I think it’s just rumours. Bernard deals with recruitment so you’d have to ask him.”