COACH Rhys Thomas says the Dragons young guns must learn from a tough afternoon at Saracens after ‘gifting’ their hosts points at Allianz Park, writes Chris Kirwan.

The Dragons were beaten 40-21 by the European champions, a heavy loss that means they cannot qualify for the semi-finals of the Anglo-Welsh Cup with a finale to come against Worcester in Newport on Friday.

The Rodney Parade region scored three tries from close range through flanker Harrison Keddie, hooker Liam Belcher and tighthead Lloyd Fairbrother but it was the ease with which their line was crossed six times that left Thomas frustrated.

“They are European champions and we were under no illusions that it going to be a hard place to come, even thought they made a lot of changes,” said the former Wales hooker, who is in his first season as the Dragons’ breakdown coach.

“It’s frustrating because we feel that we gave them tries quite easily. They were gifts while for our first try we had to work for 23 phases.

“There was a bit of poor game management [when conceding] before half-time and a try straight after, that was a 14-point swing.

“It’s good for the youngsters to appreciate that and as long as they learn from it, that’s the whole point of the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

“We are frustrated but the beauty of rugby is that there is a game next week to put it right.

“The positive were that we gave four players a chance to represent the Dragons for the first time – Callum Morris, Calvin Wellington, Rio Dyer and Henri Williams.

“And for Zane Kirchner and Harrison Keddie, it was good for them to get 80 minutes and come through.”

Keddie captained the side on his return from four month out after shoulder surgery while former Springboks full-back Kirchner made a first outing since September in the unfamiliar position of fly-half.

“With his experience we were trying to get him on the ball as much as possible with a load of youngsters around him,” said Thomas.

“We wanted him to try and galvanise the squad and make key decisions. Although he hasn’t played there for quite a while I thought he went quite well.

“Harri was decent and is so industrious, you can’t fault his work rate considering that he hadn’t played for four months. For him to have 80 minutes is another positive.”