THE Dragons suffered derby anguish against Cardiff Blues at Rodney Parade. Here are five things from the Boxing Day clash in the Guinness PRO14.

1: Bumper crowd don’t get much to cheer

It was the Dragons’ biggest attendance for a number of years but the shocking weather ensured there wasn’t too much action to cause the occasional punters to rush to the box office.

The game was tense in the closing stages, and few would have cared about the opening hour had the Dragons burgled the spoils, but this was a chance missed.

The Ulster game on December 1, a 32-32 draw, was one of the best I’ve covered but since then region has laboured to victory against Enisei-STM, lost when they should’ve beaten Newcastle and then spluttered against the Blues.

We know that 2018/19 promises much but hopefully the Ospreys game on Sunday will give another big crowd more cheer to return for Bordeaux-Begles, Worcester, Glasgow, Treviso and Edinburgh.

2: Back row pain 

Jackman doesn’t exactly have a wealth of options for the 6, 7 and 8 jerseys, in fact it’s just Ben Roach and the bright prospects Taine Basham and Lennon Greggains putting pressure on the starting trio of Aaron Wainwright, James Benjamin and James Sheekey.

The Dragons have been hit hard by injury this season with two of their brightest prospects Ollie Griffiths and Harri Keddie currently sidelined along with stalwarts Lewis Evans and Nic Cudd plus James Thomas.

It showed against the Blues, who won the breakdown tussles and forced plenty of turnovers in the first half.

The Dragons lacked a big ball carrier in the rain while the wet weather hindered the ball-playing skills of Benjamin. The visitors’ trio of Josh Navidi, Nick Williams and Olly Robinson looked more balanced, while they also had Josh Turnbull in reserve.

Jackman needs a few bodies off the treatment table and can’t wait for the arrival of Ross Moriarty.

3: Tighthead Thomas

Nicky Thomas got the nod at tighthead after Lloyd Fairbrother had a disrupted week of training following the birth of his first child.

The on-loan Scarlets man is certainly a formidable scrummager but the return of Fairbrother is essential against the Ospreys; the in-form prop came on at half-time and not only was solid at the set piece but added energy around the park.

With Leon Brown still out with concussion and Brok Harris out for months with a shoulder injury, Thomas has an important role to play but Jackman could have done with having the former Wales Under-20s prop in pre-season.

At the moment he is a little like Duncan Bell, who proved to be a surprise hit when he came out of retirement to answer a Dragons SOS in February, 2014 and it may take a little time before we see the best of Thomas, who is initially on loan until late January.

4: Henson had a mare

The former Wales and Lions playmaker has been a superb signing this season, showing that there is plenty left in the tank yet.

However, he had a stinker in testing conditions against the Blues and will be sweating on the 10 jersey for another of his former sides on Sunday. On performance, Angus O'Brien deserves the nod.

Henson probably has enough credit in the back to retain his spot against the Ospreys but needs to be better in his decision-making and control.

The 35-year-old has been one of the Dragons’ best performers this term and they need him back to his best if they are to upset their visitors on New Year’s Eve.

5: Plenty of character

At 22-3 this could have been an awful advert for what the Jackman Dragons are, so at least the players showed a bit of late spirit.

It was too little, too late but it did give the supporters something to belatedly cheer.

The Dragons cannot afford to be so late to the party in their final game of 2017 against an Ospreys side fuelled by their own derby disappointment out west.

It’s over three years and 18 games since a Guinness PRO14 win against a Welsh rival.

The Dragons can do it on Sunday but have to start with a bang, while they need to react more swiftly to make minor adjustments when their impressive driving maul is well defended.