THE Dragons will return to the Guinness PRO14 with a spring in their step thanks to a 33-27 win in an entertaining Anglo-Welsh Cup clash with Worcester.

The Rodney Parade region triumphed in Newport thanks to tries by centre Jarryd Sage, full-back Ashton Hewitt, fly-half Zane Kirchner, scrum-half Sarel Pretorius and centre Tyler Morgan.

The Dragons knew before kick-off that they could not qualify for the semi-finals but the demand was to keep the momentum from their fine European Challenge Cup success against Bordeaux-Begles.

With home games to come against Glasgow on Friday then Benetton Treviso and Edinburgh (in Ebbw Vale), February is a month in which Bernard Jackman’s side can prosper.

Their injury list is gradually shortening with former Springboks full-back Kirchner and influential back row forward Harrison Keddie having returned at Saracens last week and Wales centre Tyler Morgan making his comeback after three months out as a replacement against the Warriors.

There were more promising signs against Worcester than there were at Allianz Park with the Dragons playing with more of the attacking verve that was present in the opening rounds of the season.

Even without their international contingent the Scottish Warriors will be a sterner challenge next week but the management team can take plenty of heart from the display in the development competition.

Kirchner pulled the strings marvellously from the unfamiliar position of fly-half while Keddie got through a mountain of work, providing the strong carrying that the Dragons have lacked in recent months.

Yet the hosts had to recover from a horror start in which they conceded after just 27 seconds.

Charlie Davies cleared the kick-off well but a quick lineout saw full-back Ben Howard burst through Harrison Keddie’s tackle in midfield and his pass put hooker Kurt Haupt over down the right.

Sam Olver converted superbly from the touchline but the Dragons levelled it up after 11 minutes.

Strong carries by the forwards got within sight of the line and then Howard was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on.

Two penalties were kicked to the corner before centre Sage scored his first try for the region, the South African, who had a strong game, wriggling to get the ball down because of desperate defence.

Kirchner added the routine extras and then sparked a wonderful score in the 21st minute.

Lineout ball was moved for the South African to hold his man before releasing wing Hewitt, an experimental full-back, who showed electric pace to race over from halfway. The score was wide on the right but Kirchner turned it into a seven-pointer.

However, the 14-7 lead didn’t last long with the Warriors responding well to level when Dean Hammond cut a nice line off fellow centre Ollie Lawrence to power over from close range.

Olver converted to level and then boomed over a cracker to make it 17-14 to the visitors after half an hour.

The Dragons had their chances to get their noses back in front but were hindered by a wobbling lineout and the Warriors went into the break with the advantage after an entertaining 40 minutes.

However, the hosts took just three minutes to sneak ahead again when Kirchner crossed for his first try in Dragons colours after benefiting from a nicely-weighted grubber by compatriot Sage that put the last man under pressure.

The momentum kept swinging and the Warriors were back in front with half an hour left when wing Tom Howe exploited some weak tackling to sneak over.

Olver converted superbly and then knocked over another penalty for a 27-19 lead after 54 minutes.

The Dragons needed to respond and a strong run by Wales centre Morgan on his comeback after three months out with an ankle injury put them into the 22.

Worcester killed the ball and the Dragons, with a fresh front row off the bench, opted for scrums that led to a bonus point try with replacement scrum-half Pretorius darting over from a free-kick.

Kirchner’s routine conversion cut the gap to a point with a quarter to go and the hosts led with six minutes to go when the Springbok put in a peach of a grubber for Morgan to score on his return.

The fly-half converted to make it 33-27 but missed a chance to seal the game when he pushed a 79th minute penalty wide.

However, the Dragons kept their nerve to kill the clock expertly for a nice tonic ahead of the final push in the PRO14.

Dragons: A Hewitt, J Rosser (C Wellington 68), J Sage (T Morgan 45), C Edwards, R Dyer, Z Kirchner, C Davies (S Pretorius 50), G Ellis (L Garrett 50), R Buckley (E Shipp 50), N Thomas (D Suter 50), J Davies, R Landman, A Wainwright, J Benjamin (H Williams 79), H Keddie (captain).

Scorers: tries – J Sage, A Hewitt, Z Kirchner, S Pretorius, T Morgan; conversions – Z Kirchner (4)

Worcester: B Howard, T Howe, D Hammond, O Lawrence, A Hearle, S Olver, L Baldwin, R Bower (captain, G Milasinovich 60), K Haupt (M Williams 31-40), S Kerrod (N Schonert 60), A Bresler (J Clegg 60), A Kitcher, A Faosiliva (H Taylor 50), M Cox (M Williams 72), T Dodd.

Scorers: tries – K Haupt, D Hammond, T Howe; conversions – S Olver (3); penalties – S Olver (2)

Referee: Andrew Jackson (RFU)

Attendance: 3,662

Argus star man: Zane Kirchner