BERNARD Jackman has challenged his charges to show a bumper Rodney Parade crowd that the Dragons are on track by enjoying festive derby delight against Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys, writes Chris Kirwan.

The Rodney Parade region have home advantage for the Boxing Day clash with the men from the capital and then for the New Year’s Eve encounter with the west Walians.

The Dragons haven’t won a Guinness PRO14 derby since winning at Cardiff Arms Park on Boxing Day, 2014 – a nightmare streak of 17 defeats. But there is optimism in Newport courtesy of the signings for next season of Wales and Lions pair Ross Moriarty and Richard Hibbard plus Rhodri Williams and Jordan Williams from Bristol.

However, the Dragons don’t want to wait until 2018/19 to show signs of progress and the head coach knows that they have a golden opportunity to impress a crowd of over 8,000 on Tuesday.

“The fans will follow us if and when we become more successful. The next two weeks are a big opportunity for us to show them we are on the right track,” said Jackman, who is in his first season in the hotseat.

“Wins would be exceptional and that’s what we are targeting, we’ve just got to find out if we are good enough.

“We have recruited really well for next year but those players aren’t here yet. We have to be realistic in terms of our expectations but certainly I would hope we could be more than competitive.”

The Dragons head into the game on the back of a disappointing 27-25 home loss to Newcastle that leaves their European Challenge Cup hopes hanging by a thread. They also have just the Southern Kings beneath them in Conference B of the PRO14 but Jackman believes they are starting to show signs of improvement ahead of a hectic period that pits them against their three Welsh rivals before a double-header with Bordeaux-Begles.

“We are probably not as far along as I would have liked, just by nature of all the injuries,” said the head coach.

“I would have liked to have more of a settled side but I do feel over the last couple of weeks the systems are starting to bed in and we are starting to show a bit of improvement.

“That’s timely because the next three games are huge for us, especially the two at home, and we want to put our best foot forward.”

l More Dragons news on pages 38&39