Dean Ryan believes Dragons have much to be positive about – but also plenty to work on – after pre-season defeat to Bristol Bears at Rodney Parade.
The Men of Gwent gave 25 players valuable game time and operated several new combinations in a thrilling friendly encounter on home soil.
Tries from Angus O’Brien, Ollie Griffiths and Sean Lonsdale opened up a half-time lead before a powerful Bristol side hit back in the final quarter.
But Ryan was keen to reflect on an impressive first half performance and a game that saw nine new Dragons take to the field.
“You don’t really know until you get out onto the field and some of our rugby in the first half and speed to turnover ball was outstanding,” he said.
“It was a shame that the last five minutes meant the score didn’t really reflect the game, but we have loads to work on and loads to be pleased with.
“If we reviewed that game in the middle of a season, we would say that we have given a heavyweight side too much field position.
“We can sort that out while we ticked a few boxes in attack and gave some new players game time.
“We didn’t look haphazard, we looked pretty sharp. There is so much more that we can get better at, so we are in a good place.
“I thought JJ (Hanrahan) led the line really well and I told people to watch Sio (Tomkinson) because stuff happens around him,” added Ryan.
“That allowed some other people to relax around them. Jack (Dixon) can grow around that space.
“We need to change and start to win games, not just talk positive in defeat, but I am pleased to see some of the things we did this evening.”
Dragons next face Wasps on home soil next Friday evening (kick-off 7pm) and Ryan is ready to ring the changes again to look at more options.
“Absolutely, we will look to change it,” he said. “We have got an eye on Edinburgh and an eye on 25 players who are in the mix for that, as well as a few others.
“I would have loved to have thrown Ross (Moriarty) on tonight. He will come back in and hopefully that keeps us building forward.”
Ryan also praised a bumper crowd of 4,491 who generated a super atmosphere inside Rodney Parade.
“I thought it was a great atmosphere and hopefully everyone will come back,” he said.
“We have got an obligation to keep playing in that way to bring people alive and hopefully we can just change the narrative at the end.”
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